Skip to main content

Full text of "PARIS 1870-1935"

See other formats




b e 


3 j 





Translated, into English by 


Edited, and brought down to include 
the events of 1933-5 by 






THIS book is not a history that is to say, it is not a 
chronological procession of the facts which have occurred 
during the life of the Third Republic from 1870 to our 
own times. It is rather an attempt to reconstruct the 
atmosphere of the successive periods, or, as it is fashionable 
to say now, the social "climates" of the last half-century 
or so. 

The atmosphere of a period is something so very 
peculiar to it that it is not at all easy to recapture or 
define. It may be described as the sum-total obtained 
by adding together the historical facts, the social occur- 
rences, and the most trivial details of the life of a people 
at any given moment. All kinds of things must necessarily 
come into such a microcosm: clothes, changes of manners 
and social habit, ways of thought and turns of phrase, 
fashions in sentiment, conceptions of life and death, 
philosophical and religious beliefs, and .material pre- 
occupations of every sort and kind. If fashions in food 
and clothes reveal the character of an epoch, a zest for 
pleasure and a contempt for suffering do so no less. 

We might call the picture obtained by assembling these 
traits the physiognomy of a period; taken over a century 
or so, it gives us the atmosphere. 

The reader of this book will not find an explanation 
of exactly how M; Clemenceau got into power for the 
first time, or just why General Boulanger failed to bring 
off a coup d?itat, nor will he learn how the Allies won the 
war of 1914. But he will discover what men were feeling 
and saying about the Panama crisis; what sort of hold 
Boulanger had over the people; and what life was like 
behind the front during the years 19 14-1 8, and in that 


It will be noticed that the thing which most of all 
conveys the exact feeling of an epoch is often something 
very trivial and elusive: a certain fact, a certain mani- 
festation of sentiment, not very significant in itself, but 
cropping up repeatedly in a number of places. It may 
be just a catchword or a phrase, but it reveals a state of 
mind. Those words so universally repeated during the 
war, whenever and wherever the Germans were under 
discussion, "Us ne faster ont fas" and "On les aura? at 
once created and enshrined the national temper. 

Among the trivial but characteristic social occurrences 
which bear and give the hall-mark to their time may be 
mentioned, among sartorial matters, the appearance of 
women in bloomers, which survived the bicycling craze 
and became a symbol of feminine emancipation. The 
disappearance of the tall hat and the frock-coat after the 
war similarly marks the coming of less formal and more 
democratic manners. 

The atmosphere of every period has something about 
it which invests all the figures of the time, a kind of 
uniform tint which colours them all. Everything about 
the year 1935 reflects the prevailing disquiet. Social, 
moral, and political unrest agitates every class of society, 
and it is quite impossible to escape from it. The unrest 
of the Boulangist period was something quite different; 
there was a gaiety and light-heartedness about the period, 
and even the unrest found its characteristic outlet in 
street-songs. The post-war years reflected a gaiety of a 
quite different kind, a savage determination to make up 
for the terrible years just passed, through, the unchaining 
of discipline and restraint, and few people could resist 
being caught up in it. One could go on indefinitely citing 
such examples; every page of history bears witness to the 
climate in which it was written. 

The author's sole intention in these pages is to recapture 
these different and successive atmospheres. One after 
another he has known them all, and he has drawn on his 


memories to re-live them. If lie is able to give that 
illusion to his readers, if the/ can feel that they too have 
lived close to the heart of Paris during the last fifty years 
of her existence, his purpose will have been well served. 



November 1935 





The country in a state of confusion Effects of the Commune 
in Paris Return of the Parisian refugees The city begins 
to come back to life Seeing the ruins Petrolphobia The 
military review at Longchamps Reopening the theatres 
Resumption of social life The Spartiate dinners The 
Oplra The Come'die Francaise The Liberty Loan and 
M. de Rothschild 


Versailles during and after the Commune The National 
Assembly Setting out for Versailles The Parliamentary 
Train and its passengers "Silence for Monsieur Thiers" 
Gambetta Some personalities of the National Assembly 
Social life at Versailles The salon of Princess- Troubetskoi 
The Thiers menage^- The first after-the-war holiday season 


The Marshal's receptions The salon of Princess Mathilde 
Bonaparte and its frequenters Madame douard Adam, the 
Egeria of the Republican group Other famous hostesses: 
the Comtesse de Pourtales, the Vicomtesse de Tredern, etc. 
Ghosts of the Second Empire The Comtesse de Casti- 
glione The end of the great courtesans Esther Guimond 
La Paiva's last bid for power 


Reconstruction of the capital and completion of the Hauss- 
mann plan Opening the new Opera-^Charles Lecocq and 
La Fill* de Madame Angot The amusements of the period 
The fashionable painters Their houses Their models 
The 1878 Exhibition The Press under the MacMahon 
presidency Relations with the censorship ferrule de 
Girardin Villemessant Magnier Other journalists of the 


Fall of the Marshal and presidency of Gr6vy Change in the 
tone of social life The Elys6e receptions under M. Gr6vy 
The first popular fte at the H6tel de Ville Gradual 
revolution of tone in manners and ideas The naturalist 
school mile Zola Antoine and the Theatre-Libre 
Transformation of the Presa Gil Bias The flood of porno- 
graphic literature Montmartre and the life of the cabarets 
The Chat Noir and its frequenters Arwtide Bruant and 
the Mirliton Yvette Guilbert The Quadrilles at the 
Moulin Rouge 




The successive financial scandals The Union GSne 1 rale crash 
Daniel Wilson and the Decorations scandal Unpopularity 
of Gr6vy Discontent with the Government Dfroulede 
forms the League of Patriots The beginnings of Boulangism 
Analysis of the movement The General's rise to fame 
Private life and character Liaison with Madame de Bonne- 
ypgin Public career of Boulanger Relations with Clemen- 
ceau, the Bonaparte Revisionists and the Royalists Arthur 
Meyer and the Duchesse d'Uzes The Boulangist publicity 
organization The collapse of the General His flight to 
Brussels and suicide 


The year 1889 President Carnot Popular tastes in amuse- 
ment The Prince de Sagan, arbiter of elegance Crowds 
flock to Paris for the Exhibition The great days of the 
Opfra It* famous dancers The Exhibition Significance 
of the Hall of Machinery Protest against the Eiffel Tower 
Its triumphant inauguration and gems from the visitors' 
book Edmond de Goncourt's impressions The Javanese 
dancers at the Exhibition The native villages and the rue 
de Cairo Fountains and Illuminations The influenza 


Nature of the Panama affair Its effect on contemporary 
opinion The chief personalities: Rouvier, Emmanuel Arene, 
Antonin Proust and Baihaut How the scandal came to light 
The Baron de Reinach Cornelius Herz, "the mystery 
man" The Bournemouth comedy The investigation The 
"Chequards" Parliamentary scenes The verdict and iti 


The General Amnesty for political offenders Paul Adata 
.and the young revolutionaries Emergence of the anarchist 
type Its psychology and habits The anarchist Press: Jean 
Grave and Le Droit Social Smile Pouget and Lt Pert 
Peinard Other anarchist newspapers Women of the 
anarchist movement Louise Michel, "The Red Virgin" 
The Revue Blanche and the parlour-anarchists Direct action 
Ravachol Vaillant and Emile Henry The attempt on the 
Chamber of Deputies Panic in the city Summary measures 
'The trial of the thirty" End of the anarchist outraget 


Enthusiasm for the Russian alliance Entertainment of the 
Russian Fleet at Toulon The Tsar visits Paris The pre- 
tensions of Felix Faure Intimate glimpse of the Imperial 
Russian household Popularity of everything Russian 
Effect of Russian and Nordic ideas Antoinc and Lugnc"-Poc* 



introduce Ibsen to the French stage -The Press of the period 
Eclipse of Figaro Arthur Meyer and Le Gaulois Gil Bias 
and its new blood Josephin Peladan and the occult group 
Foundation of Le Journal Introduction of the journalistic 
"interview** Some personalities: Fernand Xau, Marie'ton, 
Jean Lorrain, Ernest La Jeunesse Jean de Mitty 


Moral aspects of the Dreyfus case Zola and the JAccuse 
letter Press and personalities of the two camps Death of 
Felix Faure and election of Loubet Unrest in the country 
Activity of the League of Patriots The Christiani 
incident and public demonstrations The Court of Cassation 
Arrest of De*roulede and other anti-Semites "The siege 
of Fort Chabrol" Effect of the Dreyfus case upon social 
life in Paris The salons of the two parties Madame Annan 
de Caillavet and Anatole France Madame Emile Strauss 
The Comtesse de Loynes and Jules Claretie The 1902 
elections End of the political career of Jules Claretie 
Death of Madame de Loynes 


Invention of the bicycle The Prince de Sagan adopts it 
Women and bicycling The breeches controversy Signifi- 
cance of the bicycling craze Cycle racing Introduction of 
Rugby football Its effect on youth Tennis Running 
Winter sports Resurrection of the Olympic games The 
Sporting Press Appearance of the first motor-cars The 
first motor-race, Paris Marseilles, 1896 Beginnings of 
aviation The Brothers Wright and other pioneers The 
first mass flight of aeroplanes from Paris 

XIII. ALL PARIS A STAGE . . . . . .190 

Popularity of the theatre during the years 1900-14 
Analysis of reasons The fashionable playwrights: Bernstein, 
Mirbeau, Capus, etc, The actors Lucien Guitry and the 
middle-aged lover Andre* Brule" Max Dearly The women 
of the theatre: Berthe Bady, Simone, Suzanne Despres, five 
Lavalliere Decline of the Come* die Franchise Politics 
and love at the Ope"ra Parisian nicknames The booming 
of CbanUcler Rostand's disillusionment The intimate 
theatre The Grand Guignol Popular lectures The arri- 
val of the music hall Loie Fuller and her serpentine dances 
Max Dearly and Mistinguett introduce the Apache dance 
The progress of classical music Attempts to gain a hearing 
for Wagner The Pasdeloup and Colonne concerts Count 
Isaac de Camondo and M. Gabriel Astruc Fashionable 
musical entertainments Diaghilev and the Russian Ballet 
Opening of the Theatre del Champs-lyse*es Beginnings of 
the cinema 



Improvements in Paris from 1900 to 1914 The MitroThe 
first motor-buses The life of the streets Cafis of the 
period Le Napo and its frequenters The Cafe* Weber 
and its circle L6on Daudet and Marcel Proust Steady 
acceleration of the pace The popular Prince of Wales 
King Edward and the Entente Cordiale Introduction of 
electric street lighting The telephone Thrust westwards 
Transformation of the Champs-filysees Pierre Lafitte 
and his papers Boldini and Helleu Paul Poiret and the 
fashionable dressmakers The afternoon tea habit Growth 
of luxury Boni de Castellane His marriage to Anna Gould 
Extravagant entertainments The Comte de Montesquiou 
and the aesthetes The craze for antiques 


Growing alarm The Delcasse 1 incident The Agadir inci- 
dent Revival of patriotic sentiment Charles Piguy and 
the Cabiers Remain Rolland The influence of Charles 
Maurras Georges Sorel Increase of political and intellec- 
tual realism Growth of the Action-franfaise movement 
The significance of the election of M. Poincare* The summer 
of 1914 

XVI. 1914 24.0 

August ist 1914 Mobilization Scenes on the declaration of 
war First hysteria "Service" Curious sights of war-time 
Paris War-time mentality False rumours The flight of 
the Government to Bordeaux Arrival of the refugees 


"Business as usual" The theatres reopen Popularity of 
musical comedy Night-time in Paris during the war The 
air-raid alarms The coal shortage Food hoarding The 
censorship of the Press Official communiques Low level 
of public intelligence The war-time "godmothers" The 
arrival of the foreign soldiers The Americans and their 
dollar* The slacker-hunt The effect of the war upon 
women Gradual emergence of the new rich Parliament's 
war record Five war Premiers How Clemenceau made war 
The silk-stocking controversy The war-time selling boom 
The signing of die Armistice Armistice Night in Paris 


The reign of jazz The dancing craze- The gastronomic 
craze Changes on the boulevards Disappearance of the 
students from the Latin quarter-^-The new rich and the new 
poor The housing shortage Effect of new-rich manners 
The orgy of speculation from 1918 to 1926 The flight from 
the professions Influx of foreign visitors Amusements of the 
period The spectacular revues Increasing popularity of 



the cinema Montparnasse The Cafe* de la Rotonde 
Spccuktion in pictures and books The emancipation of 
women The cocktail craze Post-war manners and morals 
The mania for speed Peace Conference Clemenceau's 
reward Poincare 1 and the occupation of the Ruhr The 
inflation period and the dictatorship that followed The 
Stavisky scandal and the February riots Paris no longer gay 



The Illustrations are reproduced by permission of the Bibliotheque 
National* where not otherwise noted 

THE BALL AT THE ]LYSE, JANUARY 23RD 1877 Frontispiece 




Copyright, Rischgitx 

IN THE Bois, 1887 104 








THE fall of the Second Empire in France was like the 
abrupt descent of the curtain on a brilliant spectacle in 
full swing. Stunned by surprise, the audience saw the 
footlights extinguished and darkness suddenly engulf the 
stage; and then, without an interval, the curtain rose 
again on the war-scarred landscape and the smoking ruins 
of the Commune. 

The rapidity of the change produced a state of affairs 
which cannot be compared with anything else, certainly 
not with the conditions prevailing after the war of 
1914-18. The protraction of this latter, its innumerable 
crises publicly discussed throughout those four dreary 
years, the daily adjustment of social habit noted at the 
time by witnesses all combined to consummate the social 
revolution of 1914-18 almost without a jar to our 
consciousness. But in 1871, on the contrary, although 
the external framework was shattered suddenly, little 
alteration in social life was apparent for several years. 
There was no Empire and no Court, but everywhere else 
there were the same people doing the same things. The 
old scenery had gone and so had the producer, but the 
majority of the cast, from the principals down to the 
crowd, had been retained. So the play went on just 
the same; people hardly noticed any difference. 

But the new scene was not particularly entrancing. 
The Commune had literally bludgeoned the country 
senseless: it had finished with a vengeance what the 
months of war had begun. In some parts of France the 
rising, whose garbled details alone had filtered through, 
was regarded merely as a Bonapartist counterplot, a 
repetition of those June days with their cry of "We want 
Napoleon." Nothing was known of the demands of the 
revolutionaries; people did not even know their names. 
Towns like Lyons and Marseilles were in the same state 
of ignorance and confusion. The Prefet of Saint-Etienne 


was assassinated as a reactionary at the very moment when 
he was about to be removed by the existing powers on 
account of his "advanced" tendencies. Uncertainty, fear, 
and confusion paralysed the country, increasing in direct 
ratio as the radius of Paris was approached; for there, 
from the Point du Jour, began the long line of gaping 
roofs, battered walls, and charred frontages. In the 
Champs-Elysees yawned the roofless Palais de Flndustrie, 
in the Place de la Concorde was the Hotel de Ville, or 
rather what had been the H6tel de Ville and was now a 
shapeless heap of rubble and stones. Whole streets had 
disappeared entirely. Some of the most beautiful monu- 
ments of Paris were dissolved into formless eruptions 
clinging to blackened walls. The Ministry of Finance 
was a rubbish-heap; of the Vendome Column only the 
base remained. The Pakis de la Legion d'Honneur and 
the Cour des Comptes had suffered a similar evil fate. 
The magnificent square flanked by the Louvre gave 
through the Arcs de Triomphe of the Place Carrousel 
and 1'Etoile, a desolate vista across to the gutted Tuileries. 
A little farther on the Palais de Justice had been entirely 
wiped out, and a lingering cloud of smoke hovered like 
a pall over the still smouldering site of the Hotel de 

The ravaged capital was still under martial law. Until 
the 3rd of June 1871 it had been impossible to go in or 
out without a permit; curfew was enforced at eleven; and 
the mounted patrols, their revolvers ready, rode cease- 
lessly up and down the deserted streets. The theatres 
were closed and the shops were shuttered; no one even 
cried newspapers. Every soldier was ordered to keep his 
rifle ready, and the ambulance men, with their tricoloured 
brassards, moved silently along bearing the injured and 
the wounded. An acrid smell of burning hung over the 
city day and night. Now and then the empty streets 
echoed to the rattle of gun-fire: more rioters were being 

Those who went out looked fearfully for their friends 
as men search among corpses on the battle-field. Some- 
times they did not know each other when they met; the 


privations and sufferings of the siege had aged them 

Among the little things which gradually brought home 
to the Parisians that the double nightmare of war and 
revolution had passed was the reappearance of white 
bread. Bread for them meant the blackish substance of 
straw-like consistency which they had thought themselves 
lucky to get for so many months. An eyewitness records 
that a little girl carrying a fresh white roll in her hand 
down the rue Richelieu found that she was being followed 
by a dozen people gaping at the unbelievable marvel which 
she held. 1 

The Palais Royal was an armed camp. Soldiers under 
the arcades, soldiers in the Galerie d'Orleans, soldiers in 
the courtyards, soldiers everywhere. A favourite amuse- 
ment of the slowly recovering citizens was to go out and 
see the open-air camps. The kitchen was particularly 
popular; a curious crowd gazed earnestly at the prepara- 
tion of the ration soup, rice, stew, and potatoes. "The 
soldier cooks," says an eyewitness, "were always ready to 
oblige the crowd by going through an elaborate ritual of 
tasting the soup in the great iron pots. The performance 
always brought them a drink." 

But if the scars of battle were noticeable in the centre 
of the town they showed even more plainly in the working- 
class quarters. Around Belleville the barricades still 
remained, and gutted houses, shutters wrenched off or 
hanging, doors staved in and windows shattered gave the 
appearance of a town sacked by the enemy. Sacked, but 
not reprieved; for in these silent streets and in these cafes, 
where sullen-faced men drank mirthlessly, brooded an 
atmosphere of evil discontent. Groups of soldiers 
promenaded the streets with guns on their shoulders, 
flourishing staffs made from the stocks of the insurgents' 
rifles, and in the suburban streets little groups of red- 
trousered soldiers camped under the meagre trees, whose 
bullet-riddled branches were hung with the hetero- 
geneous contents of their knapsacks. 

For some days now the guns had been silent; here 

1 Maurice Dreyfous: Ce qu'il me reste a dire. (Paris, 1913.) 


and there came a stray fusillade, and a dull detonation 
occasionally as the last remaining walls of a building 
collapsed in a cloud of dust. 
Over all the June sky continued relentlessly blue. 

On the 3rd of June civilians were allowed to come and 
go without permits, and from that moment the curtain 
rose on the new Paris. 

The people came in crowds on foot, in carriages, 
by rail and by steamer, their excited curiosity leaping 
all social barriers. Most of them were Parisians who 
had been immured in the nearer suburbs, chiefly in 
Versailles, during the siege and the Commune. Back 
they came "carrying their bags" and arousing the ire of 
Edmond de Goncourt, who noted bitterly, "I am 
astounded at their provincialism. I couldn't have be- 
lieved that eight months' absence from the centre of 
c hie could have destroyed so completely the supposedly 
ineradicable Parisian qualities." 1 

The repatriated citizens had only one idea to go and 
see the ruins. Hardly troubling to see if their homes 
were safe, they poured out in hordes to gaze at the 
Ministry of Finance, the H6tel de Ville, and the other 
demolished public buildings. They became connoisseurs 
of the aesthetic of demolition; they remarked on this or 
that bizarre effect of a fire or an explosion; they chat- 
tered, nosed, gaped, rumoured, invented and explained. 
A few were positively disappointed. 

"It isn't as bad as they made out. Quite a lot of 
places are untouched." 

"Isn't it enough for you?" 

"Well, everybody has their own troubles. You 
wouldn't believe what we went through. ... In Ver- 
sailles they were asking two hundred francs for a miserable 
little back room downright robbery." 

Uncommiserated among the curious went the people 
who had lost their homes, gloomy-eyed and tight-lipped, 
sometimes muttering curses under their breath. If the 

1 Journal des Gonpourt, annhs 1870-71. (Paris, Fasquclle ed.) 


crowd noticed them at all it was to remark that there 
were still a lot of dangerous characters about: "Look at 
that fellow's face. I bet he's a Communard." 

But this was only the advance guard of those who 
wanted to see the ruins. As the last shot was fired across 
the barricades, the English tourist agencies began an 
intensive advertisement of pleasant tours in the devas- 
tated areas. Towards the end of June groups of the 
indefatigable islanders, complete with field-glasses and 
sketch-books, began to mingle with the crowds of 
Parisians and provincials on the boulevards. The elderly 
whiskered gentlemen and the young misses fingered the 
blackened stones; some gathered up charred papers and 
other fragments that had presumably escaped the holo- 
caust; others put odds and ends in their pockets, doubtless 
in case they should get out of practice. 

It was the Yankees' turn next. The New York 
steamers brought hordes of them and their wives and 
their blonde daughters, "doing" the devastated town at 
a moderate inclusive rate. 

The oldest inhabitants marvelled and said, "Really, 
Pve never known Paris so full in the summer." 

The anaesthetized city had come to life, suddenly and 

Although the Germans still remained in the outer 
fortifications the town had begun to resume its customary 
routine. The carriages came out again in the afternoons, 
the streets were crowded all the time, and at the begin- 
ning of July we find the newspapers complaining that the 
press of carriages was holding up the traffic between three 
and five p.m. 

And the beggars reappeared. "Most of them/' says 
Figaro, "are armed with violins or accordions, pursuing 
the passers-by with an interminable and intolerable 
'Marseillaise'. At least they might play the 'Chant du 

The cab-drivers resumed normal activities, and the 
plaint of the mulcted fare was heard on every hand. The 
papers were full of letters from persons who had been 
charged three and four times the proper rate. 


But there was still a scarcity of policemen. Despite 
public agitation, another month was to pass before the 
regular force could be re-established. 

The wildest and most diverse rumours were freely 
circulated. It was said that Paris was full of plague- 
infested houses, that bands of revolutionaries were hidden 
in cellars waiting a favourable opportunity to leap out 
on peaceful citizens, that the Louvre was mined and 
would go up at any moment, that M. Thiers had been 
assassinated (with full circumstantial details), that Henri 
Rochefort had escaped, that Gambetta had been poisoned, 
and that the Empress Eugenie had landed at Bordeaux 
with the Prince Imperial. 

It was easy enough to find credulous ears among the 
inhabitants of the still-smoking city. "Paris is nothing 
but a forcing-house of rumour," writes Philip Audebrand. 
The newspapers themselves were merely letter-boxes 
for the collection and dissemination of scaremongering 

Petrolphobia was the outstanding mania. Since the 
Commune, petrol had become the most noxious thing 
in creation. Some advocated its complete prohibition; 
others wanted it licensed. Yet others favoured a house- 
to-house visitation to track down the sinister stuff, those 
found in possession of it to be arrested, tried, and con- 
demned out of hand. 

Public opinion also waxed hot about the ruins. It was 
suggested that they were a national disgrace and that 
work should be carried on night and day to restore them. 
Gangs of Communards under armed guards were to be 
compelled to mend the havoc they had made. Others 
recommended a conscription of the necessary labour from 
all parts of France; while another school of thought 
wanted the ruins left as they were as a warning to 
future generations. 

These were the questions hotly debated not only in the 
papers but in the cafes and in private. The life of the 
cafes had come back; the old, familiar faces bent over the 
tables at Tortoni's, at the Cafe de Madrid and the Cafe 
du Helder. Aurelien Scholl was re-established at the 


centre table at Tortoni's, surrounded by his "henchmen' 5 , 
Albert Wolff, Chavette, Fromentin all those who had 
been the arbiters of Parisian taste before the troubles, 
and who hoped now to resume their sway. They gos- 
siped about the antipathy between Thiers and Gambetta, 
about Perrin leaving the Opera for the Comedie Fran- 
faise, about the new piece at the Palais Royal, about 
Gounod, about Ger6me and Dubufe (the latter domiciled 
in England now), and about the fabulous sum (a million 
francs, it was said) that an Englishman had offered 
Meissonier to illustrate Moliere. They talked also of 
Napoleon and of the Comte de Chambord, and those 
gallant spirits who were still considering discretion the 
better part of valour in their exile at Brussels. 

Around them among the passers-by billowed the women, 
in the same flamboyant dresses that they had flaunted 
before the war: straw-coloured silts with green corsages 
or heliotrope sleeves, impertinent little hats loaded with 
crushed roses drowned in waves of black lace. Some still 
wore clusters of golden ringlets, others had substituted 
a more sober chignon of black hair on the nape of 
the neck. Their ample skirts were bedecked with lace 
flounces relieved by pipings and ruchings of silk, and they 
allowed a glimpse of fanciful boots. AU the women with 
any pretensions to smartness carried little spaniels under 
their arms. 

Catulle Mendes, who was about to publish his 73 
Journees He la Commune, was at Brebant's, regaling his 
fellow-journalists with accounts of the harrowing scenes 
he had witnessed. Over them hovered the shadow of one 
who had fought on the other side of the barricades and 
who now lay in a felon's prison. Anecdotes of Rochefort 
passed from one to the Other. 

"He is in the prison down the rue St. Pierre, you know." 

"Yes. He occupies a cell reserved for prisoners con- 
demned to death, where there is no direct light. " 

"I saw in the Figaro that his condition is very serious. 
He hardly speaks and eats virtually nothing." 

"The prison chaplain came to visit him the other 
day " 


de Paladines received a great ovation, but the enthusiasm 
of the crowd reached delirium when a new model gun 

Some of them were shouting already, "We'll get our 
own back with that." 

Madame Edouard Adam, who tells us that she got up 
at an "unbelievable hour" to be there with her husband, 
remarks, "Hope seemed to stream out with the sunshine. 
We could never, during that frightful war, have believed 
in such a recovery. But now we know it." 

And Gambetta had tears in his eyes. 

At a quarter to two Thiers arrived in a closed carriage 
and took his pkce in the Pavilion of Honour with the 
President of the National Assembly and the ministers. 
At two o'clock came Marshal MacMahon, and, passing 
in front of the troops, went over to take his place with 
his staff amid the salute of the guns. And then the 
review began. For nearly four hours the soldiers filed 
past (there were 80,000 of them) in impeccable style and 
to a crescendo of enthusiasm. 

When the last soldier had marched away, the Marshal 
walked towards the Pavilion of Honour, where Thiers 
was seated, and the President of the Republic stepped 
down to meet him. Before all the people the soldier and 
the statesman embraced each other, driven by an over- 
mastering emotion. A thunder of cheers split the air, 
every lung expanded with heroism, relief, and hope. The 
dark days were gone, and they believed in the future. 
"Vive M. Thiers! Five le Marshal!" 

A day like that had an immediate effect on the pulse 
of Parisian life. The city rioted in new vitality. Paris 
went back to eat and drink largely, to open its theatres, 
to give parties and dances, and to crowd the clubs. The 
"season" was kte, but that did not matter, the Bois was 
still impassable with carriages and promenaders. While 
the new Opera House was being finished the old one in 
the rue Le Peletier reopened triumphantly with Auber's 
La Muette. Halanzier had just been made director, and 


began to rehearse Reyer's Erostate. The Gymnase put 
on Dumas filfs La Visite de Notes; the Palais Royal, 
Tricoche et Cacolet; the Bouff es-Parisiens, Le Testament de 
M. le Crac\ PAmbigu, Les Nuits de Courtille, a sombre 
drama by Marc Fournier. At the Gaiete, Theresa 
reappeared in La Chatte Blanche, noticeably plumper 
but more vivacious than ever. Offenbach, who had fled 
the capital, was said to be returning. 

Finally, Leon Say, the new Seine Prefect, filled the 
public cup of joy to overflowing by announcing that 
racing would be resumed in September, both in Paris and 
at Chantilly. That definitely meant peace to the multi- 
tude! And then, in the winter, there would be the balls 
again, and the gay little supper-parties. Yes, it was peace! 

There were, however, still some melancholy moralists 
who persisted with inconvenient observations: "France 
in Mourning", "The Lost Provinces", "The Enemy still 
in France", "A Crushing Burden" (five milliards of 
debt), "Paris in Ruins". 

But those stirring slogans which fortified our souls from 
1914 to 1918 were even then being pressed into service: 
"Business as Usual", "War on Depression", "Luxury is 
France's Chief Industry", etc. 

"Every Opera Ball," wrote a statistician in the Figaro, 
"puts five million francs in circulation. At a time like 
the present such an argument must outweigh all others." 
There was in fact a great deal more realism and less 
hypocrisy than forty years afterwards; people were per- 
fectly frank about their desire to forget their sufferings. 
Since the 1st of June Figaro had been pleading for the 
removal of the ambulance stations, "which do nothing 
but depress the city". Four months later it was said 
quite openly that all the histories and memoirs of the 
Commune were entirely worthless. There was a general 
demand that the military should stop explaining and let 
the public get on with the peace. "Why blacken so much 
paper with things we'd all forget?" sang the Commhe in a 
popular revue, "Go on with your dirty washing, but 
we'll not whitewash you" 1 

1 Robert Dreyfus: Petite bistoire de la Revue de fin d'annee. (Paris, 1909.) 


Another scene in this revue introduced one of the more 
serious journalists to be castigated by the Commere. 

"Here is a man," she said, "who under the pretext of 

i i r 

regeneration wishes to rob our city of its native gaiety, 

and to ride his hobby-horse of gloom over youth, life, 
and love." The offending journalist is expelled from the 
scene, amid loud cheers. 

Ecstatic plaudits then usher in a glittering damsel who 
represents the Folies-Bergeres. This representative of 
"youth, love, and life" is welcomed in the prevailing 
argot, and the scene closes with the following ditty: 

Oni, mon etablissement, tout com me PAlhambra 

Chez moi, on chante, on rit, on fume, et caetera. . . . 

Qu'on se 1'dise 

Baladzine . . . ohe", du flan-flan 
Moi, je suis les Folies-Bergeres 
J'aim' pas ceui qui font des manieres 
Viv' le plaisir, et allez done! 

This rather crude literary effort was a declaration of 
faith* It reflected public opinion and contemporary 
manners faithfully enough. Turning over the news- 
papers and memoirs of the period one finds no trace of 
anything but an almost ferocious desire to live at all costs 
and to wipe out the memory of the catastrophic year that 
had just passed. "War, revolutions, military intrigues, 
strategy, tactics, artillery, shells, petrol, we've had 
enough of them," cries Philibert Audebrand. "The 
theatres are open again, ladies and gentlemen, the 
Parisiennes are more seductive than ever, visitors are 
arriving in crowds, and gaiety is in the air" 

People dropped back into their old comfortable habits, 
and the habitual diners-out resumed their activities. 
Famous reunions announced the resumption of their 
sessions, and a gratified city treated these pronounce- 
ments with due respect: "The most important event of 
the month," writes Figaro, "is the resumption of the 
Spartiates' dinners, the first of which will take place 


almost simultaneously with the reopening of the 

"These delightful dinners," writes Edmond de Gon- 
court, "where the wittiest of talkers initiate you into the 
gossip behind the scenes of the journalistic, financial, and 
political worlds of Paris and the choicest scandals of the 
boudoirs." Arsene Houssaye, and Paul de Saint- Victor, 
the author of Manette Salomon, were the life and soul of 
these reunions. 

They were held at Brebant's, that prince of restaura-. 
tiurs, and they included Jules Claretie, that unsilenceable 
raconteur, whose infallible journalist's nose invariably' 
led him to the scene of the incidents which he described^ 
with such gusto; Gaston Jollivet, whose duty it was to 
follow the debates in the National Assembly, and who^ 
amused his companions by revealing all the little tricks 
of the great orators; Francis Magnard, then only a* 
reporter, and Robert Mitchell, who gave his experiences 
as a prisoner of war in Germany, saying that his chief 
delight was to watch the German officers bullying their , 
men on the parade-ground. 

All these Spartiates ironic misnomer lived in a per- 
petual whirl of words. They talked, argued, disputed 
and pontificated about everything the gossip of the 
boulevards and the theatres, art, letters, and social life. 
They would even talk about finance, shaking their heads 
over "the depreciation of French paper, the impossibility 
of paying the German debt, and the prospect of bank- 
ruptcy". 1 

Only one subject was taboo: they might not talk about 
politics. Any one infringing this rule was fined. It was, 
however, broken on one classic occasion by the "biblio- 
phile Jacob", 

"an amiable old dodderer whom nobody knew save by 
his nickname. He rose suddenly, his hands gripping 
the table-cloth, and launched at the astonished diners 
the opening lines of Uldole (Auguste Barbier's anti- 
Bonapartist polemic): 

1 Journal des Goncourt, 


Corse atix chevaux plats, que la France etait belle 
Au grand soleil de Messidor. 

"After which, shuffling through the following 
iambics which smoke with imprecations, the old man 
unloosed, with a hiss that rattled all his false teeth 
together, the final outburst in concentrated defiance 
of all the Bonapartists present: 

Je n'ai jamais charge qu'un homme de ma haine 
Sois maudit, Napoleon! 

"Henry Houssaye murmured in my ear: * What a charge* 
The old bibliophile has evidently turned zouave. 9 

"His frenzy over, our man, who hadn't even the 
excuse of being drunk, exclaimed solemnly, 'I have 
unburdened my conscience/ After which he set down 
by his plate his share of the bill and the ten francs' fine 
which he had incurred, and went out. 

"We never saw him again among the Spartiates, but, 
behold, a few months later, the old hypocrite decorated 
by Thiers with a rosette of the red ribbon instituted 
by the nephew of the said accursed lank-haired 
Corsican. He was an opportunist before the word 
became recognized at the front door of politics." 1 

But jarring episodes of this sort were rare among the 
Spartiates, whose dinners usually went off in that 
atmosphere of polished witty scandal which so delighted 
the sold of Edmond de Goncourt. 

At the Opera, the great attraction was Faure in 
-Mozart's Don Juan, and La Coupe du Roi de Thule. 
Fioretti, Fiocre, Fonta, and Sangalli were the bright 
^particular stars of the corps de ballet, and Thiers himself 
jiid not disdain to patronize the famous gala nights, 
surrounded by a bodyguard of friends and subscribers 
whose elegance, alas, was a long way removed from that 
of the old regime. 

The trifling social events of the capital assumed 
immense importance in such an atmosphere. The return 

1 Gaston Jolivet: Souvtnirs un Parisitn. (Tallandier ed.) 


of the Baroness Vigier, formerly that Sophie Cruvelli so 
loudly applauded on the boards in the rue Le Peletier, 
was a first-class sensation. Every one flocked to the four 
concerts she gave that season. 

The money was flowing in too. The Opera receipts, 
from its reopening down to the fire which destroyed 
it on October z8th 1873, were astounding. No wonder 
Halanzier rubbed his hands and conceded an honorarium 
of 30,000 francs to his maitre de lallet, an event which 
nearly caused a riot in the green-room and provoked 
endless discussion in the newspapers. 

But it was at the Comedie Franfaise that the pulse of 
Parisian life beat highest. Perrin, who had just returned 
from London, had been appointed director, and he 
resolved to make the famous theatre more splendid than 
ever, and in particular, to make the celebrated Tuesday 
performances for subscribers events of the first social 
magnitude. To this end, he invited the collaboration of 
the Prince de Sagan, who was to scrutinize the list of 
proposed subscribers with the most scrupulous care and 
to exclude all who did not belong to the inner circle of 
Parisian society. 

The prince did this with such thoroughness that even 
the most superior demi-mondaines were excluded. Then 
there was a fine outcry: "Subscription list! More like a 
proscription list." 

All the pretty ladies stormed, wept, and cajoled, and 
their harassed protectors expostulated and pulled strings, 
But it was no use they could get nothing out of de 
Sagan. "To a friend who reminded him that even the 
Opera tolerated behind the stalls a sort of promenade, 
nicknamed the 'Aquarium', where gallant subscribers 
could gossip and admire no less galante ladies, the 
Prince remarked sardonically that one fishing-ground 
was enough," So the half-world had to bow to the 
decree. Those who had been "retained" or "inscribed" 
on the list naturally regarded it as a social triumph. 

. , 

With work and pleasure now both in full swing, France 


was next to demonstrate, before the enemy had yet 
quitted her soil, the fabulous reserves of her wealth. 
The occasion was the famous Liberty Loan. 

This loan to pay the war indemnity, over which so 
much ink was to flow, had been mooted with trepidation 
and discussed with bated breath. That France could never 
discharge such a burden was the general refrain. Very few 
people were found to foretell its success; the majority were 
overwhelmingly pessimistic, and the word "bankruptcy" 
flowed from journalistic pens more freely than ever. 

The country was astounded when the results were 
made known in August 1872. 

"We needed three milliards to escape from the 
muzzle of the cannon and to free ourselves from the 
prick of the bayonet's point. The subscription replied 
by placing at our disposal forty-two milliards. ... It 
is with something like fear that we have seen these 
colossal figures, whose like has never yet been realized 
anywhere or at any time, pile up and take shape. 
This stupendous sum is a revelation of our inmost 
forces which will astound the civilized world. In Paris 
alone more than twelve milliards were subscribed." 

In flowing periods the journalists assessed and extolled 
the treasure of Golconda revealed by the excavations of 
M. Thiers. The name of Rothschild was mentioned 
everywhere; the important part which he had played in 
the preliminaries was recalled, together with the constant 
financial support which he had extended to the new 
regime. Anecdotes of him were circulated everywhere; 
a favourite was the story of a minister who had fallen 
from power during the last years of the Empire. 

"Well, Monsieur le Baron," said the latter to Roths- 
child, "you won't be very sorry to see me leave the 
Ministry. The Exchange will drop three francs." 

"You under- estimate," said the financier. "You are 
worth rather more than that." 

At one of the official dinners to which he had been 
invited by Thiers, Rothschild and the Archbishop of 


Paris arrived simultaneously at the door of the salon. 
Each politely waited to give precedence to the other. 
Finally Rothschild stepped forward. "All right, your 
Eminence. I'll go first. After all, the Old Testament 
precedes the New." 

Philibert Audebrand, who regaled his companions with 
these anecdotes over their absinthe in the Cafe Riche, 
recalled a conversation he had once had with Heine, who, 
indicating Rothschild, said to Audebrand one day, "Look, 
there goes the greatest revolutionary of modern times." 

When Audebrand ridiculed this, Heine went on to 
prove that in extending his financial ramifications down 
to the daily life of the people, Rothschild had done more 
to change the face of France than Napoleon himself. 
His loans, subscribed in small denominations, had revolu- 
tionized the nature of property; any one with a trifling 
sum could speculate in immense and imponderable 
enterprises, "and the cobbler round the corner with his 
ten francs in the bank has become a rentier as much as 
the Due de Montmorency". This blessed consumma- 
tion is approvingly recorded by Audebrand as the ideal 
of social security. 

And so, mingling work and pleasure with the traditional 
economy of her race, France swings into her stride to the 
refrain of the caffi concert: 

Via 1'travail qui r'prend, 
Esplrance, confiance! 
Via PtravaU qui r'prend 
Paris sera tou jours grand! . . . 



BUT it was not on Paris that all eyes were centred during 
those first years following the Commune; it was on Ver- 
sailles. Once again the old royal city held the place of 
honour, for the National Assembly was meeting there 
to decide the country's destiny. And thither had retired 
the man who, one might say, was the incarnate hope 
of France, so well had he merited his proud title of 
the Liberator. Thither also flocked the ambassadors, the 
frtfets and all the administrators, greater and lesser, to 
confer with M. Thiers. Finally and most emphatically, 
there set out each day for Versailles a cohort of pub- 
licists, journalists and politicians, returning every night 
to Paris and reversing the old custom by working in 
Versailles all the week and resting in Paris on Sundays. 

For many months the city of Louis XIV had beheld a 
very motley throng in her splendid avenues. She had 
united the functions of a spa and a fortress, sheltering 
those Parisians rejected for military service or stranded 
by the siege in her quiet solitary houses. Later, those 
avenues had felt the measured tread of troops returning 
to enforce order in Paris, the staff officers succeeded 
the troops and the generals succeeded the staff officers. . 
Now the National Assembly and the President of the 
Republic were imposed upon them all: a regular Court of 
Justice had been installed and the executions had begun. 

Every street was guarded and every cross-roads had its 
sentry. At nightfall the voices of the sentinels pierced 
the historic calm with sharp disquiet. 

Convoys of Communards, taken red-handed with their 
arms, filed along the streets. A sad cortege, these ragged 
remnants of a delusion, advancing through a crowd that 
insulted them, belabouring them with sticks and um- 
brellas and spitting in their faces. They were headed 
for the Orangery, where they were herded together, 
with gendarmes guarding the gates and soldiers encamped 


in the gardens below. Leaning on the marble balustrades, 
idle spectators gazed down on them, as decorative and 
remote as the background of a Veronese. Near by, 
queued up along the outer wall, were the wives and 
relations of the prisoners, bearing certificates, identity 
cards, letters of recommendation, etc., and waiting with 
beating hearts for the father, husband, or brother they 
hoped to be allowed to see. When the prisoners arrived 
there were tears and embraces, hysterical supplications, 
and outbursts of rage from some of the women. From 
time to time a strange noise, a sort of sharp crackling, 
tore the air. The execution of the condemned was 
taking place up there on the Plateau de Savory. 

The disturbances quelled and order restored again, 
attention was concentrated on the National Assembly. 
Many of those deputies who, precipitately following 
Thiers, had hoped to find a lodging in the old town, 
tramped fruitlessly from place to place, and then were 
finally stranded. A number of them were reduced to 
camping for several days in the galleries of the Chateau, 
hastily improvised into parliamentary dormitories. All 
the hotels were besieged by applicants, and the streets 
were thronged with people gazing at the German pro- 
clamations which were still affixed to the walls, 

Extravagantly attired women with swelling skirts, 
"pancake" hats, and minute parasols, accosted soldiers of 
every rank. Parisian refugees strolled about as if on 
holiday, mounted troopers rode backwards and forwards 
from the capital, and bands of tuft-hunters elbowed 
their way through the crowd trying to sort out the 
notabilities from the nonentities. 

Soon they began to settle down. The Ministers found 

lodgings in the enormous salons of the Palace and the 

Chateau, the Ambassadors took up their quarters in the 

hotels around the Reservoir and the St. Louis quarters, 

while the horde of hangers-on, political and journalistic, 

went backwards and forwards from Paris each day. 

The departure of the train for Versailles was an event. 

The train left at 12.30 every day, and in the minute 

waiting hall (dignified by the title of vestibule) of the 


Gare St. Lazare, which to-day seems so preposterous to 
us with its little plaster columns, narrow doors, and 
opaque glass windows, were gathered all those ardent 
new politicians thrown up by the fall of the Empire, all 
the publicists in search of "copy", all the eager officials 
who wanted to do a little wire-pulling, all the habitual 
hangers-on, and a good many of the wives of the repre- 
sentatives of the people, all making their way through 
the press towards the uncomfortable carriages of lie 
Western State Railway. 

"Getting into a carriage" (writes an eyewitness), 
"was not to be accomplished lightly. You had to 
satisfy the other occupants of your political affiliation. 
There were nods, signs, and passwords. When any 
important personages approached, groups formed round 
them immediately, and as they drew near the com- 
partments those within cried out, We are the Centre'; 
We are Royalists'; We are Bonapartists 5 , etc." 

A large crowd of spectators assembled on the platform 
to identify celebrities. There came Edouard Tarbet, 
of Le Gaulois, carefully shaven, coiflfured and pomaded, 
dressed in the latest style. Despite everything, he had 
remained Bonapartist. Immediately following him, long 
and lean as a fast-day, bowed slightly and carrying 
gingerly a wide-brimmed hat, was Philibert Audebrand, 
who had sat in the journalists 5 gallery for more than 
thirty years, watching one regime succeed another with- 
out raising an eyebrow the complete professional 

A harsh voice might be heard upbraiding some railway 
official who had seemed lacking in deference towards 
the "gentlemen of the Press". That would be Leo 
Lespes, who, under the pseudonym of "Timothee 
Trim", had been making a fortune for the Petit Journal 
during the kst seven years. Wearing a startling velvet 
waistcoat, a flowing red tie and a lurid shirt, he was a 
well-known Parisian figure. His impressive watch-chain, 
weighted down with trinkets, made him look rather like 
a pawnbroker. 


Another voice to be heard, equally harsh and even 
more furious, was that of M. Buffet, President of the 
Assembly. His unprepossessing face was creased per- 
petually, "like a man brushing his teeth", said Edmond 
de Goncourt. A coarse, unbridled nature with a bitter 
tongue, too sardonic to convince his listeners, but all 
the same a formidable adversary, he got at least a respect- 
ful hearing. 

Two ardent Royalists were Numa Baragnon, straight 
from Nimes, whose burning Southern eloquence aped 
Gambetta's, and the Marquis de Castellane, one of the 
rising hopes of the Assembly, an elegant and attractive 
young man with disarming manners. He was the 
favourite orator of the audience galleries, which were 
always crowded when he was announced to speak. 

There also would be Clement Laurier that celebrated 
Clement Laurier whom Gambetta called "a heart of gold", 
doubtless because he had an open purse of it. A tall man, 
with a shaven head and a thin, sarcastic mouth, he played 
the part of Maecenas to the Cafe de Madrid, a sneering 
Maecenas with considerable surprises in reserve for those 
who banked on the purity of his Republican sentiments. 

Two men in black, grave, dry, and precise, were joined 
by a third, also in black but rather more elegant. This 
latter was Target, of some importance because of the 
dozen satellites who gravitated round him and whose 
votes he controlled. "The National Assembly," it was 
said, "is a pair of scales which balance almost evenly. 
Targets group is the weight which turns the scale." 

As the train was about to start, a group of four or five 
persons hurried through the barriers. 


It was he, accompanied by his faithful Edouard Adam, 
his coat tails flying, his tie dishevelled, and his tall hat 
the reverse of immaculate. But his unwieldy form 
radiated authority. As he was hustled into his compart- 
ment, the whistle blew and the train for Versailles set off. 

An hotir later they arrived at the depressing little 
station of Versailles. They descended, sorted them- 
selves out, and raided the one or two decrepit cabs and 


prehistoric omnibuses which, were all that lay at their 
disposal. Most of them had to walk, and they overflowed 
along the road to the Chateau. 

The National Assembly was actually held in the old 
theatre of the palace. Movable benches were placed 
below the orchestra chairs, prolonging the seating on to 
the stage. Windows had been let into Duraneau's 
famous ceiling with Apollo crowning the victors, and 
at night the girandoles and an immense chandelier lit 
up the place with their innumerable candles. On the 
left and right of the gallery were two enormous lamps. 

The boxes below the gallery were reserved for ambas- 
sadors and other distinguished personages and high 
officials. Princess Troubetskoi had a seat there, never 
missing one of Thiers's discourses, and Madame Edouard 
Adam was no less assiduous. 

The rallying-point of the whole assembly, royalists, 
revolutionaries, moderates, and time-servers alike, was 
Thiers. "I am only an old umbrella on which it has 
rained for fifty years" was a saying of his; but in fact he 
juggled the conflicting parties with an ingenuity which 
provoked the enthusiasm of amateurs of politics. He 
was unrivalled in the delicate sowing of discord, in pro- 
voking quarrels, and in entrapping the unwary into false 
positions. His only terror was Gambetta. When the 
latter made one of his characteristic outbursts, Thiers 
would immediately seek the ear of the moderate parties, 
communicating his fears and his suspicions, and gently 
feeding them with a little of the implacable hatred he 
cherished for the tempestuous demagogue. 

"If you haven't seen Thiers this last year, you have 
never seen anything" (wrote Maximin Rude). "He 
wriggles like an eel from one group to another, 
insinuating himself into the most impenetrable circles, 
finding some way of getting word of the most con- 
fidential negotiations, and playing his cards so adroitly 
that his adversaries are lost before the end of the first 

His indefatigable energy required hardly any rest. 


"He gets up every morning at four o'clock" (wrote 
Paul Bosq) 1 "and goes down to the stables, escorted 
at the regulation distance by an enormous aide-de- 
camp. In winter lie throws a plaid over his shoulders, 
and for these early morning visits to his horses he 
occasionally discards the formal top hat. Clad just 
like that he will receive on his way back any urgent 
deputation, or, behind tightly closed doors, one of 
those sinister-looking personages employed by him on 
his many curious errands. His friends have sometimes 
reproached him for employing such very dubious 
agents, but he always has a reply ready. *It takes a 
scoundrel to get the better of an honest politician,' he 
once said good-humouredly. As it is well known that 
M. Thiers is in a better humour at this time of the day 
than at any other, the smooth-tongued make use of 
this knowledge to obtain from him concessions which 
he would refuse at any other moment." 

At five o'clock he received the Ministers, and discussed 
events and information of all kinds. This went on until 
the formal council at eleven. About one o'clock he sat 
down to table with a few chosen guests, and later on, 
before repairing to the Assembly, he received still more 

Between these sessions he would gather any audience 
he could find in the salons around him and philosophize 
indefinitely upon the nature of mankind. He would 
say smilingly how much he approved of the new form of 
government, how much simpler and less cumbrous it was 
now that he had only one person to convince the 
National Assembly, instead of two as formerly the King 
and the House of Peers. 

"And I do not overlook," he said, "that eloquence 
need be cultivated less studiously than before." 

Here he did himself an injustice; for never throughout 
his long career was he so remarkable an orator as at this 
period. The "silence for Monsieur Thiers" was prover- 
bial in the Assembly and in the Galleries, a* unique and 

1 Souvenirs de VAssembUe nationals. (Plon, 1908.) 


utter silence which imposed itself on all from the moment 
that the little man mounted the tribune, followed b7 his 
faithful Barthelemy Saint-Hilaire, who stood modestly a 
few steps away, ready to hand any necessary papers. 

The historian of Napoleon was at his best in a financial 
discussion. No one could juggle with figures like Thiers, 
and he could always produce some damning fact from the 
prodigious reserves of his memory to clinch an argument. 

When he particularly wanted to convince his audience 
he employed a peculiar technique which he once ex- 
pounded to Jollivet and some others at one of his recep- 
tions. "At the crucial moment," he said, "I look around 
the deputies and fix on the one I consider the stupidest. 
I concentrate on him, I talk at him, and I never take my 
eyes off him all the time I am speaking." 

When he received in private, M. Thiers was even more 
diplomatic. If he had to see an Orleanist he would talk 
of nothing but the past, recalling his services to the July 
monarchy, dwelling with emotion upon the simple and 
affectionate character of Louis Philippe and his family. 
Were his visitor a Royalist his voice would take on an 
almost religious quality as he enunciated, with emphatic 
and appropriate gestures, those sacred words "majesty" and 
"authority" and "the representative of God on earth" . He 
did not frown even on Bonapartists, but adopted with 
them the light and airy tone of one who could not bear 
to dwell upon the cruelties of the present. 

Finally, with the Republicans he was simple and 
straightforward, quoting Beranger and Victor Hugo, and 
even the hated Gambetta, with a wealth of professions 
of loyalty and service. 

Nothing could have been more diametrically opposed 
to such a figure than that of Gambetta. 

Gross of body, untidily clad, his huge head always 
hanging back a little, seeming to drag his limbs rather 
than to walk, he was a singular apparition seated in his 
place between the pallid Dreo, nephew of Gamier-Pages, 
and the vulpine Clement Laurier. But when he was 
about to speak, a single word from him shot like a bullet 
at his adversary. 


"How he roars!" said a listener one day to Madame 
Edouard Adam. 

"Why not? He is an authentic lion," 

And the lion would then literally leap on to the 
platform. ^ * 

Essentially an orator and not a parliamentary debater, 
{ he would advance upon his adversary, head lowered, like 
a gladiator. 

Fired by the inspiration of the moment, vesting his 
impromptu thoughts in resounding phrases, his words 
rushing along at a martial gallop which almost physically 
bore down his hearers, tangling, wrapping, and imprison- 
ing them in the resistless flow. His massive, bull-necked 
/head and deep vibrating voice were made to pour out 
sonorous periods to an almost reeling audience. His body 
was always in action, reinforcing his voice; he stamped 
up and down the pktform, drew back and bounded 
forward, shook his burning head and relegated his oppo- 
nents to outer nothingness behind with a scornful gesture 
, of his hands. The sonorous southern voice beat down 
( resistance like an unending clash of cymbals; no one could 
stand up against this force. He would begin by being 
attacked from all sides of the Assembly and would end 
by dominating them all. 

Like Mirabeau, whom he in many ways resembled, he 
had the gift of annihilating an opponent with a blistering 
phrase. Henri Brisson was "a sham shirt-front with 
nothing underneath"; Floquet "a turkey in peacock's 
feathers"; the Due de Broglie "a Macqhiavelli of the back 
stairs"; Lockroy "a cigarette that is finished in two puffs". 

After Thiers and Gambetta the rest of the Assembly 
were small beer. Perhaps the best of them was Rouher, 
who seemed to carry on his vast shoulders all the weight 
of the defunct regime. A thick, bowed little man, his 
fat, flabby cheeks flowing over on his whiskers, he gave 
an impression of commonplace heaviness. But business 
discussions would reveal in him a lucid mind and memory 
and a fund of good sense. 

M. Audiffret Pasquier, a little, nervous, bilious-looking 
man, nevertheless assumed an extraordinary potency on 

Characteristic attitudes of the famous orator, from a contemporary cartoon 


the platform. He was the head of the Orleanist party 
and hated the Legitimists as much as the Bonapartists, 
declaring that he would rather ally himself with the 
Republicans than go back to the errors of the pre- 
revolutionary regime. 

Very different was M. Sosthene de la Rochefoucauld, 
Due de Doudeauville et de Bisaccia, elegant aristocrat to 
his finger-tips, who would never condescend to violent 
oratorical display, but who preserved under all his charm 
and his suavity an irreducible contempt for Thiers. In 
vain the latter, faithful to his tactics, plied him with 
honours and flattery; they were all met with polite 
refusals or ironic smiles. Thiers offered the duke the 
embassy of St. James's, but the princely gift was refused. 
"No, I must stay here to turn you round again," said the 
duke smiling, "in case you accidentally go a little too far 
to the Left." 

Outside the National Assembly there would have 
been little to do at Versailles, had not several political 
hostesses conceived the idea of installing themselves there 
in the spring. Chief among these was the Princess 
Troubetskoi, an old friend of M. Thiers, whose reunions 
were admittedly the centre of social life. The Princess 
Lise, as she was generally called among her intimates, had 
played an important part in society under the Empire. 
Animated, gracious, and pre-eminently intelligent, she 
had charm if not beauty, with her strange face framed 
in blond ringlets and lit by two beautiful malicious eyes. 
She had a diabolical wit and sparkle, but for all that hers 
was an upright and loyal nature, faithful to her friends. 

She was a grand-niece of the Princess Lieven, and it 
seemed as though she was to revive that historic salon. 
With the war she had gone back to Russia, but she 
returned afterwards, first to Paris and then to Versailles, 
where she settled down in the rue de Courcelles. 

There all the celebrities of the moment passed through 
the great white and gold drawing-room or gathered in 
the little silk-hung boudoir. The centre of attraction, 


inevitably, was M. Thiers, flanked by Madame Thiers and 
Mademoiselle Dosne. 

"As soon as he arrived he would take his place under 
the large palm in the middle of the drawing-room and 
would hold court there all the evening, carefully keep- 
ing interlocutors at a tactful distance, surrounded as 
he was, stimulating discussions, directing conversation, 
and generally playing on his audience as it suited him." 1 

The Princess always wore white and quantities of 
amazing jewels. The dinners she gave to her intimates 
were celebrated throughout Europe, for she knew that 
men are held as much by their stomachs as by their wits. 
And she served Thiers faithfully and absolutely to the end. 

At the beginning of the Third Republic, all the political 
parties gave official receptions: there was the Republican 
salon, where Thiers was enthroned with his inseparable 
Barthelemy Saint^Hilaire; the Royalist salon conducted 
by the Due de la Rochefoucauld; the Orleanist salon under 
the Due de Broglie, and the Bonapartist salon where 
Madame de Pourtals did the honours. 

Little by little these rivals were eclipsed and the 
battle-field remained in the sole possession of M. Thiers, 
or, rather, of the whole Thiers family. From that time 
the tone of society changed. 

The magnificent apartments which had witnessed so 
many sumptuous fStes under the Empire were now 
tenanted by persons whose social ideas were governed by 
the conventions obtaining in a fifth-floor suburban flat. 
The homeliness of Madame Thiers, a little, dumpy woman 
invariably dressed in black, trotting about from one room 
to another, was proverbial. 

Madame Thiers was a natural enemy of luxury and 
extravagance, desiring nothing but the barest necessities 
either for herself or her family. She imported the habits 
of the lower middle classes into the official world, and 
the heliotrope dressing-gown, in which she could be seen 
any morning in the corridors of the Palace, soon became 
one of the standing jokes of Paris. 

1 Claud Vento: Les Salons de Paris en 1889. 


Every day at eight o'clock punctually she would come 
down the great staircase and make for the kitchen to give 
her orders to the servants. Then she would go up to 
her room again, dress hurriedly, and go out to do her 
own marketing, followed by a white-aproned servant 
carrying the basket. If there was to be a reception in 
the evening she would go personally to the florist in the 
rue du Plessis and choose the roses or the lilac for the 
table. In every purchase she displayed the greatest parsi- 
mony, disputing acidly with the shopkeepers to get a 
halfpenny taken off. 

Harsh and severe to those who were directly under her 
orders, she was detested in private as much as she was 
ridiculed by smart Parisian society. Countless anecdotes 
of her cheeseparing and lack of social poise were circulated. 
One of them tells how when Princess Troubetskoi was 
lunching with Thiers, the latter selected a peach from 
the dish on the table and gallantly presented it. The 
peach, however, was bad, whereupon M. Thiers selected 
another. That also proved to be uneatable. 

M, Thiers, greatly embarrassed, suddenly caught sight 
of some really magnificent peaches on a sideboard, and 
ordered the footman to present them to the princess. 

But he had reckoned without Maddme Thiers, who 
severely countermanded the order, saying, "Those peaches 
must not be touched. You know perfectly well that I am 
keeping them for dinner." 1 

As for Mademoiselle Dosne, that angular old maid 
whose nature was as sharp as her elbows, she arrogated 
to herself the role of major-domo, and she did, in fact, 
superintend the furnishing and decoration of the house, 
receiving orders, cutting prices, and allotting tenders. 

The two women often went about together: at the 
official receptions they appeared side by side, "recalling 
the legendary silhouettes (albeit petticoated) of the good 
knight Don Quixote and his naive henchman, the rotund 
Sancho Panza, except," added the irreverent commen- 
tator, "that Mademoiselle Dosne was not good and 
Madame Thiers certainly was not naive". 

1 Pierre de Lano: Aprls L'Empire. (Paris 1894.) 


Close at the heels of these three people, bourgeois to 
their finger-tips, came a fourth, equally grubby and 
uncouth. This was the alter ego of M. Thiers, Barthelemy 

Saint-Hilaire was insignificance personified. He was 
like a useful machine which the President always kept 
handy, a combined buffer and waste-paper basket. He 
was solemn, formal, entirely self-effacing, and utterly 
devoted to Thiers. His wants were very few: he had, a 
little room with a shabby arm-chair upholstered in striped 
velvet, a table without a cloth, and two rush-seated chairs 
beside. The walls were lined with bookshelves and there 
was 3 trunk in one corner. "They can send me away when 
they like," he used to say; "my trunk is packed ready." 

The Spartan secretary had one distraction: he was engaged 
on an interminable translation of Homer into French verse. 

The Thiers receptions were always preceded by a dinner. 

"The President of the Republic" (says Paul Bosq) 
"sits down to table with his guests, but he leaves them 
almost immediately to hurry away to his own private 
repast, the menu of which is almost invariably soup, 
roast veal, and a sweet, washed down with a couple of 
glasses of claret. M. Thiers has generally finished his 
frugal dinner while his guests are still in the first course. 
As he finds it difficult to keep still in one place, he gets 
up and skips around the table, darting from one guest 
to another to ask if a dish is good, to talk politics with 
the deputies, art with the painters, and strategy to the 
generals, laying down the law to all impartially. If a 
telegram is Brought to him, he opens it and excuses 
himself, saying, 'The business of France before every- 
thing/ When the dinner is over, he settles himself into 
a deep arm-chair and goes to sleep. Madame Thiers, 
with her finger on her lips, then ushers the guests on 
tip-toe to an adjoining room where they may talk, but 
only in low tones. 

"As soon as he is awake, the President is in the midst 
of everything. He is a lively and sparkling talier; 
anecdotes and epigrams flow rapidly, while his suave 


and delicate flattery charms away suspicion and hostility 
from any adversary whom he sets out to win round." 

So it was not after all so very different from the great 
days of the Empire. Under the same ceilings, the same 
ladies trailed their ample skirts and displayed their dazz- 
ling shoulders and luxuriant ringlets among whiskered 
gentlemen in impeccable black or magnificent uniform. 
The Court of M. Thiers did not even lack its quota of 
distinguished strangers. The two most conspicuous of 
these were Lord Lyons, the English Ambassador, and 
Prince Orloff, the Russian. With the former Thiers was 
all sugar and honey. There were no stores of compliment 
and flattery which he did not exhaust on the person of 
the noble lord. He would button-hole him, draw him 
aside, and drench him in floods of eloquence. Knowing 
that the English had a constitutional prejudice against 
the Republican form of government, he devoted himself 
tirelessly to whittling it away. He trusted to his good 
humour, his cleverness, and his disarming appearance, 
but he trusted in vain. The adversary remained glacial 
and unimpressed. 

His attitude towards Prince Orloff was a little more 
careless. He was considerably less in awe of the Russian 
than of the Englishman. Rightly or wrongly, he imagined 
that the prince was secretly favourable to French interests, 
and that having acquired some property near Fontaine- 
bleau he was to all intents and purposes a French citizen. 
M. Thiers deceived himself. 

But this solecism was nothing compared with his 
handling of Count von Arnim, the German Ambassador. 
When the ktter arrived in Paris after the ratification of 
peace, he might well have been astounded at his reception. 
This envoy of the hated conqueror was received by the 
vanquished as if he had been their dearest ally. The 
official world, society, the politicians, and the financiers 
fell over each other to overwhelm him with hospitality. 
The Count could hardly believe his senses. 

He was a splendid-looking fellow, this tall Pomeranian, 
with a wide, smooth brow, hair worn "artistically" long, 


deep eyes, a straight nose, and a slightly protruding 
underlip. He gave an impression of immense vitality, and 
he had a very charming daughter. All the women fell 
on him and all the young girls wanted to go around with 
the delightful Fraulein von Arnim. 

Thiers, of course, went one better than any one else. 
He almost made Count von Arnim his most intimate 
friend. Daily he sent for him, asked his advice and 
reposed confidences in him. There was never a semi- 
official lunch or dinner without the Count von Arnim. 

"Such a charming man/* said M. Thiers. 

"Such a delightful fellow," said the Ambassador. 

If any one reproached the President with his excessive 
cordiality towards a German he would reply that the 
Count was a well-disposed German who would round off 
the sharp corners of Bismarckian aggression. And when 
it is added that the Count's admirers included Madame 
Thiers and Mademoiselle Dosne, there is no more to be said. 

Such were the official receptions. M. Thiers delighted 
to see and be seen. For forty years he had hovered on 
the outskirts of Parisian society, and now that he found 
himself in the heart of it, he was prepared to love the 
whole world, A successful reception filled him with pride 
and pleasure, yet aroused at the same time his suspicions, 
his rancours, and his secret hopes. The little man coquet- 
ting with the world, accepting and rejecting it at one and 
the same time, for all his gifts lacked that indefinable 
quality which impresses itself upon others and commands 
their respect. 

One of his greatest problems had been the attempt to 
preserve a modicum of good taste and elegance in his 
official receptions. This could not be secured without 
some heartburning, for certain of the more blatant poli- 
ticians found themselves systematically excluded. All the 
same some curious lapses of manners, even among the 
select circle, were recorded. It was said that Monsieur 
Grevy 1 himself tapped the shoulder of a duchess, with the 
contemporary equivalent of "Hello, sister!" 

But perhaps Monsieur Grevy has been libelled. 

1 Afterwardi President. 



SHORT as was the reign of M. Thiers it sufficed to bring 
into society a certain bourgeois tone which had been 
wholly lacking under the Empire. Although the elegant 
personages of the two faubourgs continued to frequent 
the official receptions and to sit down at the Liberator's 
table it was more out of habit than of positive willingness. 
In the confusion of those first few months following the 
Commune nobody had dared to do anything which might 
break the continuity of custom, and so they had gone to 
Versailles and to the Elysee as formerly they had gone to 
the Tuileries. 

But the domestic routine of M. Thiers was not, as we have 
seen, likely to enthral the brilliant men and the elegant 
women who claimed to set the tone of Paris society. 
Every day the elite became more and more conscious of 
the fact that although Thiers might be the Liberator he 
certainly was not "one of us". 

The advent of Marechal MacMahon was consequently 
reassuring. People knew now with whom they were 
dealing; for the MacMahons had long been familiar'figures 
in the best salons, and the veteran soldier and his devout 
wife were received with both relief and respect. 

But succeeding M. Thiers, and more particularly 
Madame Thiers, was not altogether unruffled, for the 
lady had a habit of almost literally creating desolation 
wherever she passed. When she left the Elysee all the 
kitchen utensils went with her, "right down to the door- 
knobs," malicious gossip added. The installation of the 
MacMahons, therefore, took some little time, but once 
it was accomplished a change was marked. 

Madame de MacMahon did not, perhaps, exercise as 
much direct influence over her husband as she was credited 
with, but she never attempted to conceal her contempt 
and hostility towards those who did not belong to her 
own world. If an unpalatable minister or deputy was 



presented to her she would flatly turn her back on him, 
and it took all the good offices of Edmond d'Harcourt, 
the Marshal's suave and diplomatic secretary, to placate 
disgruntled politicians, smooth over disagreeable incidents 
and prevent an open scandal. 

The Marshal was visibly upset by these calculated 
affronts to men who were bringing him their good- 
will and their good offices. But, unfortunately, he was 
one of the most timid as well as the most cautious of 
men, and in spite of his willingness he never quite suc- 
ceeded in restoring the havoc of his wife's rudeness. He 
hesitated, faltered over a phrase, and ended by talking 
incredible nonsense to cover his nervousness; and since his 
memory was very poor he was almost always at a complete 
disadvantage in encounters of this kind. 

In his heart he was just as much exasperated by the 
Royalists as by the Republicans. Both parties made the 
discovery that he would never really go far enough either 
way to suit them, and no one of any slight political 
importance would hesitate to accost the Marshal at one of 
his own receptions, take him into a corner, and hector him. 

But, above all, MacMahon hated Thiers. Whether he 
had engineered it or not, the force of circumstance had 
made the ktter the representative figure of the Third 
Republic as opposed to the thinly disguised royalism that 
reigned at the Elysee. No one was better aware than 
Thiers himself "that he had taken the bleeding and 
mutilated Republic in his arms and nursed it back to 
health and strength by his solicitude"* "And," he added, 
"I am nearly seventy-five, but I have still plenty of energy." 

That energy had not abandoned him. He organized 
and supported unweariedly the opposition to MacMahon, 
and his house in the rue St. George was known throughout 
Paris as its rallying-point. Not content with criticizfog 
MacMahon in public and in private, he took a malicious 
pleasure in circulating anecdotes of crass stupidity and 
prudery which public opinion would invariably attribute 
to the President. 

And all that the latter could do in return was to 
authorize daily a host of applications from all parts of 


France to be allowed to call one of their streets after the 
Liberator, which daily routine never failed to rouse the 
President to a pitch of futile rage. 

After they had been some little time in office the 
MacMahons decided to give only two or three large 
official receptions yearly at the Elysee, and to hold smaller 
and more intimate receptions weekly at Versailles. These 
"Thursdays 55 were to be severely limited to the elect. 

"Admission to these 'Thursdays 5 is by special invita- 
tion card following acceptance on the President^ list 55 
(says Pierre de Lano). "No one can get in who is not 
personally known to the Marshal and his wife, who 
receive their guests immediately they are announced. 
The host and hostess remain until nearly eleven o 5 clock 
by the entrance to the salons, after which they rejoin 
their friends, the Marechale going to the ladies, the 
President wending his way through the groups with a 
pleasant word for every one. 55 

There was no formal supper on these occasions, but an 
open buffet was installed. The first part of the reception 
was devoted to a concert by the finest artistes from the 
Opera, followed by general conversation and, finally, 

Whatever Paris retained of authentic aristocracy passed 
through the Marshals rooms and mingled with the 
Parliamentary and official guests. The Due de Broglie 
elbowed the Orleans princes, the Prince de Joinville, and 
the Due de Nemours. A very different group encircled 
old "Father Duf aure 55 , as he was called. With his flowered 
waistcoat and his trousers hitched up too high by his 
braces, his neck encircled by a much-creased tie which 
worked round and round as he disputed vociferously in 
his nasal voice, M. Dufaure was scarcely an arbiter of 
elegance. But most of the people who surrounded him 
belonged either to the greatest families of France or to 
the thickest seams of bourgeois affluence. The purely 
Parliamentary guests naturally oscillated between the two. 

Following the absurd custom of the times, the women 


had gravitated together in one or two rooms, while the 
men, as usual, had isolated themselves in an improvised 

Gathered around the Marechale, who wore stiff white 
silk and feathers, were the Princess Troubetskoi, also in 
her invariable white, the Duchess of Chartres in rose- 
coloured silk with a white embroidered corsage, the 
Princess Metchnikoff in rose chiffon, the Princess Gedroys 
in lilac, and the Marquise de Morny in pearly grey. 1 

From the conservatory trailed out the languorous 
opening chords of a waltz. As soon as it was heard the 
couples drifted together, entwined and swayed out under 
the myriad lights of the great chandelier. Magnificent 
uniforms and sober black brushed satins and laces; some 
of the men wore knee-breeches and ruffles; many had 
monocles slung on broad ribbons barring their shirt-fronts. 
Whiskers were popular, and fluttering ringlets fell on many 
of the beautiful shoulders which surged up from the low- 
cut gowns. The long, floating trains left behind them a 
trail of perfume. . , . 

The example of the MacMahons was faithfully followed 
throughout Paris. Elegant suppers and expensive enter- 
tainments again became the vogue, and the Princess 
Mathilde 2 reopened her salon in the rue de Berri. The 
position which this centre of learning and wit had held 
under the Empire is common knowledge, and its reopen- 
ing was warmly welcomed. It was an essentially literary 
milieu, and the leading lights were Edmond de Goncourt, 
Alexandre Dumas, and Renan. It was as frankly liberal 
as of old, but liberalism was no longer dangerous, and the 
frequenters piously preserved the fajade of the old regime 
while overflowing with enthusiasm for the ideals of the new. 

A brilliant muster gathered on the first floor, the whole 
of which was thrown open for receptions, comprising 
three large salons opening into each other, a dining-room, 
and a vast conservatory built over a part of the garden. 
Here, amid a wealth of exotic plants, reposed the Canova 
bust of Napoleon I on a marble column. 

1 Georges Duval. Memoires un Parisien (Flammarion). 

2 The daughter of Jerome Bonaparte, niece of Napoleon I. 


In the dining-room were priceless tapestries, and the 
drawing-rooms, hung with red damask, contained pictures 
by Gerome, Meissonier, and Hebert, as well as water- 
colours by the Princess herself. 

"By the fireplace in the first drawing-room the 
Princess used to await her guests. Then they passed 
on into the conservatory, the favourite spot of the 
mistress of the house as of all her friends. There she 
had made a sort of glorified studio, and there, sur- 
rounded by her circle, she loved to sit close to the 
Imperial bust, as though sheltered by the glories of 
the past and fortified by their remembrance. Round 
about her, other groups would form here and there, in 
the corners, under the enormous palms, or else by the 
screens which divided the immense area into eight or 
ten little boudoirs, with the light filtering through the 
overshadowing branches of the strange tropical trees." 1 

Wednesday was the day reserved for artists and men 
of letters. There was a dinner party but no reception. 
These "Wednesdays" were restricted to a few very intimate 
friends, such as de Goncourt, Renan, Benedetti, and 
Madame Conneau. Of one Wednesday in December 1873 
Edmond de Goncourt notes in his journal: 

"The dinner had been frigid and constrained, long 
silences had fallen, and the thoughts of every one were 
on Bazaine and the judgement that was about to be 
passed. 2 

"After dinner, the Princess took up her tapestry, 
which was her way of removing herself from those round 
about her and belonging to herself alone. She scarcely 
responded to those who politely came to sit in the little 
chair at her feet, but as each new-comer came into the 
room she would raise her head and jerk out, 'Is there 
any news yet?' At last, as the evening- drew on and 

1 Claud Vento: Les Salons de Paris. 

* Marshal Bazaine, defender of Metz during the war, was tried by court 
martial for negotiating with the Prussians without authority. He was sen- 
tenced to death, but was subsequently reprieved. 


nobody brought any news, she burst out suddenly. 
'Men are marvellous! None of you knows anything! 
Now if I wore trousers I'd be out and would know 
all the news by now. Will you, young Gautier, go and 
see if you can hear anything at the Cercle Imperial?' 

"Gautier was a long time gone. As I was leaving I 
met him in the doorway and he shot it out at me: 
'Unanimously condemned to death.' "* 

Almost opposite this salon was another representing very 
different opinions, although still more or less anchored 
to tradition. It was to play the most important role 
during the first fifteen years of the new regime. This was 
the salon of Monsieur and Madame Edouard Adam. 

A sincere democrat and a faithful friend, upright and 
scrupulous, Edouard Adam might have personified the 
heroic Republican ideal as opposed to that Empire which 
he had fought all his life, and to whose downfall he had 
assisted. A former colleague of Armand Carrel in the 
National, general secretary to the Seine Prefecture, and 
then Conseiller d'Etat in 1848, he was deprived of his 
posts by the Coup d'Etat. He became one of the most 
implacable enemies of Napoleon III, and since the fall 
of the latter he had been made Chief of Police, an uncon- 
genial office which he held only for a very short time before 
exchanging it for a seat in the National Assembly, 

Madame Adam was one of the most remarkable women 
of her time. She was learned rather than artistic; she 
had been nursed on antique studies and reared in admira- 
tion of the heroic days of ancient Greece and republican 
Rome. Fired with the great and generous ideals which 
had provoked the Revolution of 1848, she was the ideal 
companion for her husband in his stormy political career. 
Trembling with fury at the outrages on liberty perpe- 
trated by the Empire, aspiring in ardent faith towards 
the triumph of democratic government, she had already 
gathered round her, during the last years of the Imperial 
regime, a band of enthusiasts for the same cause: 

1 Journal des Goncourts. 


About 1868 she had made the acquaintance of Gam- 
betta, then famous only as an advocate. The Adams 
became extraordinarily intimate with him, and the fall 
of the Empire naturally strengthened this connection, and 
made their house practically an annexe to the Ministry. 

It was there that the three of them decided on the 
foundation of the Rtpublique frangaise, which became the 
mouthpiece of the Republican party. They found an 
office in the rue du Croissant so that they could go to 
dine at the Adam house in the Boulevard Poissoniere, for 
they had very little time to spare between the work at 
Versailles and the work on the paper. 

The first issue made its appearance on the yth of June, 
which, said Madame Adam, placed it under the protection 
of Apollo. The declared object of the journal was to 
"defend the Republic and to work to rehabilitate France". 

From that moment the Adam salon began to increase 
in lustre and importance. All political, literary, and 
artistic Paris took the road to the Boulevard Poissoniere. 
The great stone staircase bore endless streams of new 
arrivals, and the huge circular hall of the suite, with 
its beautiful old furniture and its girdle of palms, was 
crammed full of silk hat? and overcoats. The reception suite 
proper consisted of the Louis XVI dining-room, a very long 
salon with three French windows giving on to the balcony, 
and a smaller salon where Madame Adam held court. 

"This was the Turkish salon, hung throughout with 
Oriental textiles. Low seats covered with old em- 
broideries, Louis XVI lerglres, arms, bronzes, earthen- 
ware, china, Venetian glass, lacquer furniture, inlaid 
chairs and Japanese fabrics draped into porttires, 
formed an elegant confusion, in the centre of which, 
on the mantelpiece, was planted the bust of Madame 
Adam by Salomon. An enormous divan covered with 
cushions took up almost the whole of one wall, near 
the windows. All this at night was bathed in light 
from a beautiful Venetian chandelier of jewel-like 
colouring, a veritable rain of fire in fairyland." 

How well this description conveys the authentic note 


of Second Empire taste, with, its exotic stuffs and bibelots 
straight out of the pages of Edmond de Goncourt. 

The political influence of the Adam salon was certainty 
at its height under the MacMahon presidency The 
death of Edouard Adam, however, gave it a new orienta- 
tion, towards literature rather than politics, and the 
inauguration of the Nouvelle Revue gave it further impetus 
in that direction. But to the very end its animating spirit 
was that of the woman who had created it, 

A large number of new writers, of whom Pierre Loti 
and Paul Bourget are perhaps the best-known, were 
launched on their careers through the Adam influence. 
In literature Madame Adam showed considerable eclecti- 
cism, but her political theories narrowed down to two 
or three fixed ideas among which that of a revanche 
against Germany grew more and more predominant until 
it became the pivot of her mind. Until old age physically 
t prevented her from discharging the active duties of a 
hostess, she was always ready to give endless time and 
attention to any one who seemed to promise assistance in 
this task which she had set herself. She had abandoned long 
ago the more revolutionary notions derived from Gambetta, 
and of her association with the tribune nothing remained 
in the end but a fervent and rather touchy patriotism. 

Beside these two outstanding salons, the others of the 
period pale into insignificance. But their very number 
bears witness to the rapidity with which Paris was recover- 
ing from the war and the Commune. 

There was the blonde Comtesse de Pourtales, the 
former protegee of Madame de Metternich, who had 
made a triumphal return to the city, and whose entertain- 
ments were celebrated for their costly splendour. On one 
occasion she was said to have spent more than 80,000 
francs on flowers alone. She was an exquisite eighteenth- 
century type with a faint resemblance to Marie Antoinette, 
and the beauty of her gowns and the lustre of her pearls 
were equally incomparable. 

Other hostesses were Madame Beule, widow of the 


former director of the Beaux-Arts, whose reputation as 
a trencherwoman had earned her the title of "La belette 
des buffets", and Madame de Blocqueville of the powdered 
hair, who was said to have served as the model for 
Pailleron's "Monde ou Von s'amuse". Sunk in her arm- 
chair she had watched all the celebrities of Paris file past for 
three-quarters of a century. A writer herself (she had been 
congratulated by Lamartine on her first book), she loved 
above all things to be surrounded by writers and artists. 

There was also the Vicomtesse de Tredern, once that 
Mademoiselle Say, daughter of the wealthy sugar-refiner, 
whose first marriage to the Due de Brissac had caused so 
much scandal during the last years of the Empire. At 
first Paris society had set its face against the young 
woman, but she had shown herself much cleverer than 
her adversaries, and had stood up against the storm with 
admirable nonchalance. 

One day, while giving tea to some of her husband's 
friends, she spilt a little on her dress. As she dried it 
with her handkerchief the Due de Praslin said: 

"Be careful, madame! Sugar stains." 

"Not so much as blood," said the young woman calmly. 

After the death of the Due de Brissac she married the 
Vicomte de Tredern. Her house in the Place Vend6me 
was decorated in restrained style, and under its gilded 
ceilings, worthy of Versailles, was born the first of those 
musical evenings which were to become the rage of Paris. 
The hostess herself, a pupil of Cavalho, had a magnificent 
voice of warm and vibrating quality, and she was always 
gracious to any one who could sing or play, or even talk 
about music. 

Many more names could be added to this brief list of 
those stars who glittered in the social sky at the beginning 
of the Third Republic. They continued the traditions 
of the Second Empire with as much grace, almost as much 
extravagance, and nearly as much wit. Truly it seemed 
as though nothing had changed in France. 

But there were some destinies that had been drastically 
changed by the fall of the Imperial regime. For the 
general public the brilliancy of the new social world had 


largely obscured the memory of the old, but those who, 
whatever their rank or position, had been definitely 
attached to the Court and were stamped indelibly with 
its seal, had either disappeared with it or were left to 
draw out a slow agony of regret. 

Not only had certain ways of living ceased to exist, but 
a certain atmosphere had definitely and finally vanished. 

It was, as usual, in the milieux of high society and the 
demi-monde that those phenomena which generally follow 
a change of political regime were once more observed. 

Immediately after the war the discreet reappearance of 
some of those who had played a great role in the past 
attracted attention for a fugitive minute, but these 
apparitions faded away voluntarily and were seen no more. 

Thus, on the 26th of August 1871 L* Illustration noted 
the presence in Paris of the Princess de Metternich herself: 

"This week Madame de Metternich has arrived from 
Germany. It is rumoured that this former luminary 
will appear only to disappear. There are pilgrims who 
tour the whole round world solely that their eyes may 
see the ruins of the holy places. So with the ex- 
ambassadress of Austria. . . . 

"The first item on her programme was a visit to the 
Bois de Boulogne, seated behind the little trotting 
ponies she had made so fashionable. But as soon as the 
Arc de Triomphe was passed, the Princess gave the 
order to turn back. She could not bring herself to go 
any farther. That 'Go back' has the brief and terrible 
eloquence of an epitaph." 

Another shadow glided down the boulevards, along the 
rue de la Paix and back to the little house in the rue de 
Cambon, where she who had been called the prettiest 
woman in Europe had once lived. It was she herself, the 
Comtesse de Castiglione, 1 who had been swept away by 
the cataclysm and had now drifted back, a poor piece of 
wreckage that had barely survived the storm. 

She was still beautiful; .those classic lines were not yet 

1 The mistress of Napoleon III. 


obliterated; there was still that in her eyes which burnt 
up those on whom they lighted. But the mainspring of 
her will seemed broken. She believed in nothing any 
more not in her power over men, not in her star, not 
even in her beauty. That spirit of intrigue that had once 
burnt so ardently sustained her no longer. The sun of 
her fortune had set. 

She still had a hearing in certain circles, and she had 
tried to sound Thiers on the possibilities of a restoration 
of the Monarchy, dreaming of a new Court where a place 
would be assured to her. She got a polite reception and 
was shown out with every appearance of respect. 

Very soon it seemed as though the gathering years had 
suddenly swooped down on her head; the oval face lost 
its wonderful contours, the features blurred and thickened. 
Then she decided to shut herself up, to hide away from 
all the spectacle of her loveliness in ruin. She banished 
all mirrors from her rooms, she kept the shutters always 
closed, and the furniture, in its sombre covers, could only 
be vaguely made out in a glimmer of gas. No bell sounded 
throughout the living tomb where the most famous of 
the Empire beauties immured herself until she died. 

Without so deliberately cutting herself off from the 
living, the Comtesse de Mercy Argenteau, Napoleon Ill's 
last flame, went into voluntary exile, wandering across 
Europe until she finally settled down in Russia, in a 
modest lodging in St. Petersburg. There, perpetually 
dressed in mourning black, she lived in a room as plainly 
furnished as an anchorite's cell. 

The celebrated courtesans of the past regime fared 
no better. Most of them passed into oblivion, or at best 
eked out some dull and pedestrian end. 

Esther Guimond finished up in a quiet villa in the rue 
Chateaubriand, where, with her cook, old Blanche, as her 
companion, she was left to dream of her lost youth and her 
pastlovers, of the power and the luxury which had been hers. 

She still received those who cared to come and see her,. 
in a red and gilt drawing-room of very middle-class style, 
like that of a minor civil servant's wife. She herself "a 
dumpy little old woman, round-backed and grey-haired, 


with a handkerchief round her head and her hands per- 
petually in her apron pockets", would greet them in 
a rough masculine voice and go on chatting with the 
breezy familiarity of a barmaid. 

MauriceTalmeyr,whosawher some years later, has left an 
extraordinary portrait of this debris of the Second Empire: 

"A mocking, wrinkled old face, the lips like two 
gashes of a penknife, and a broken upturned nose which 
was a monument of undying insolence . . . about her 
whole person was an air of suppressed excitement and 
wariness which was quite unique. In talking, she 
veered from buffoonery to tragedy, her little, wrinkled, 
writhing hands like frogs' feet plunging feverishly in and 
out of her apron pockets. Her wicked wit and ferocious 
cynicism were poured out like vitriol on the world." 

She still saw a good many people one way and another, 
and Maurice Talmeyr describes a dinner there with 
Arsene Houssaye and Emile de Girardin, who still had 
almost a veneration for her. The dining-room was no 
more sophisticated than the drawing-room; the atmos- 
phere had the authentic note of respectable provincial 
boredom. Emile de Girardin pontificated, as usual, and 
Arsene Houssaye indulged in reminiscences, evoking those 
happy days gone by, so far, so long, almost a century ago 
it seemed. 

La Guimond herself carved at table, with a formidable 
array of implements in front of her, like a surgeon's case. 
From this she would select the appropriate weapon and 
proceed to carve up the victim in great style. "The 
operation completed, she would carefully cut off a small 
piece and present it to Girardin, who would taste it 
judiciously, re-taste it, and finally declare the dish good, 
indifferent, or superlative." 

At least La Guimond managed to preserve in her retreat 
the best culinary traditions of the Second Empire. Her 
one-time friend, Marguerite Bellanger, who had fled to 
England in 1870 and succeeded in getting herself respect- 
ably married to an English naval officer, had declined to 


stop in the country of her adoption because the food was 
so bad there. So she returned to Paris to figure once 
more in that somewhat equivocal society which she knew 
so well, but finally she retired to a country house at 
Villeneuve in Touraine, where she lived out her days to the 
edification of theparish priest and her neighbours in general. 

So, on the whole, the demi-monde might have done 
worse for itself. One of the best-known of its members, La 
Paiva, even succeeded in retaining a measure of influence, 
and kept open house to politicians in the hope of being 
able to play a part comparable with that of the great 
royal mistresses of the past. Some said she was working 
to bring about an understanding between France and 
Germany; others, more simply, that she was Bismarck's 
spy. In any case she had Gambetta in her toils and could 
be relied upon to do nothing to embarrass his career. 
The tribune dined there every night, and as often as not 
lunched there, and was constantly to be encountered 
going to or coming from her house in the Champs-Elysees, 
which he treated as his own. 

Louis Andrieux 1 gives us a curious sidelight on one of 
these evenings: 

"When I arrived, Gambetta was stretched out on a 
sofa, smoking, and talking to Henckel, with Spuller, 
Arsene Houssaye, and La Paiva at a discreet distance. 
When the footman announced that dinner was ready, 
La Paiva, magnificently dressed and still bearing some 
relics of her former beauty in her harness of jewellery, 
took Gambetta's arm and ascended with him the onyx 
and porphyry staircase which led up to the dining-room 
on the first floor. 

"Nobody talked politics at dinner, to Spuller's secret 
relief, no doubt. This fidus Achates of Gambetta, who 
would have gone cheerfully to hell with him, was visibly 
uneasy at the great man's rather indiscreet choice of 
friends. Despite a dull and unpromising exterior, 
Spuller lacked neither perspicacity nor common sense. 
Gambetta called him his 'cold shower-bath'. 

1 Louis Andrieux: A travers h Republique. (Payot.) 


"That night Gambetta was talking about art with 
the air of authority with which he talked about every- 
thing. He admired Baudry's decorations on the ceiling, 
which were, he maintained, superior to the same artist's 
work in the new Opera House. 

"*In the course of the next hundred years,' said 
Spuller, 'this house will be celebrated as a museum.' 

" Well, it is celebrated as a club already.' 1 

"Arsene Houssaye spoke of the changes in the district 
where he and his son Henry lived, regretting his rather 
premature sale of the ground where, when he was direc- 
tor of the Comedie Fran$aise, he used to take the com- 
pany to pick grapes. 

"Changing the subject, I complimented him on the 
success of the balls he organized and particularly upon 
his tactful wording of the announcement ^Beautiful 
ladies must wear masks.' 

"Up to the time I left I never heard a word about 
Bismarck, Kulturkampf , or Tunis, still less of any politi- 
cal re-orientations of Gambetta's." 

But there must have been other occasions when these 
thorny subjects were discussed or La Paiva would not 
have received that mysterious order to take herself over 
the frontier. She was not the woman to abandon lightly 
anything she took up, and she must have realized that she 
was deeply compromised to have acquiesced so readily. 
Everything comes to an end some day, as even courtesans 
of the Second Empire were to discover. Especially when 
the Second Empire had gone and there was only a Repub- 
lic which started its career by announcing that it proposed 
to keep its courtesans in their proper place. 

1 It is now The Travellers' Club. 



PARIS under the MacMahon presidency was not simply 
the brilliant city restored to all its former life and gaiety; 
it was also, and primarily, a city in the course of material 

The ravages of the siege and the Commune had made 
gigantic lesions in the fabric. Thiers had attacked the 
problem of repair with laudable alacrity, and the Marshal 
pursued it with the same diligence. But it was not merely 
a question of razing the ruins and wreckage which dis- 
figured the city: both Thiers and MacMahon aspired to 
complete the grandiose scheme for the modernization of 
Paris which the Second Empire had initiated. 

Everybody knows what Paris was like before Haussmann 
came. Narrow and tortuous streets, thick with mire, and 
honeycombed with blind alleys and decrepit houses dating 
from the seventeenth century at least. No boulevards, no 
vistas, no wide and serviceable streets to accommodate the 
rapidly increasing traffic which piled up in indescribable 
confusion on both sides of the Seine. 

Haussmann's plan, which has given us the Paris that we 
know to-day, made an immediate revolution in this laby- 
rinth, and its advantages were recognized from the outset. 
But, unhappily, the war came and prevented him from 
carrying out his task, and its completion was left to be 
laboriously accomplished by his successors. 

All shades of opinion were united in exhorting the 
Thiers and MacMahon Governments to spare neither 
time, labour, nor money to finish the modernization of 
the city. And it may be held to the credit of the new 
regime that it did so faithfully carry on the work. 

Between 1873 and 1878 new roads, new theatres, and 
improvements of all kinds were being continuously in- 
augurated until the imposing edifice was crowned by the 
Great Exhibition, which was to be the most emphatic 
sign before the world of the recovery of France. 



It would be tedious to catalogue the building activities 
of the period here, but a few of the more noteworthy may 
be mentioned. The ruins of the old H6tel de Ville were 
swept away, and a new one was erected on the same site; 
the restoration of Notre-Dame (alas!) was put in hand, 
and the Venddme Column restored and set up again. 

On the left bank of the Seine the Boulevard St. Germain 
was extended, another Ministry of War erected. The 
Boulevard Henri Quatre was completed, and the churches 
of St. Francois-Xavier and St. Joseph. The synagogue in 
the rue Victoire and the fountains in the Place de Theatre 
Fran9ais and the Avenue de 1'Observatoire were built. 

In the Palais de ^Industrie were exhibited the plans of 
the Sacre-Coeur, the foundation stone of which was laid 
by the Archbishop of Paris on the I7th of June 1875. 

Finally it was decided to complete the Avenue de 
POpera, and on the I9th of September 1877 Marshal 
MacMahon opened the new street in full state. It was 
true that the scaffolding still remained on either side, 
but the buildings were unmistakably rising rapidly, to a 
growing chorus of public admiration. 

"In two years' time" (wrote a reporter in Figaro) 
"we shall have one of the finest avenues in the whole 
of Europe. The facade of the Opera at the end, flanked 
by two rows of superb new buildings, will be a unique 

But all this was nothing compared to the excitement 
over the reopening of the Opera itself two years previ- 
ously, on the 5th of June 1875. F? soine months before 
that Parisians had gazed in admiration at the profusion 
of marble columns, the great rotundas, the bronzes, the 
trophies and all the ornaments which make it the key 
building of the period, the apogee of Second Empire 

The opening night was unique in Parisian annals. 
Early in the morning hundreds of people had gathered 
outside, all the afternoon the crowd was growing, and 
when evening -came at least seven or eight thousand 



curious spectators were massed in the square. The 
builders had worked up to the last minute, the curtain 
was actually only finished at seven o'clock, an hour before 
the official opening. All the seats had been distributed 
by the Government and the distinguished guests included 
the ex-King of Hanover, the ex-Queen Isabella of Spain 
and her son Alphonso XII, and 250 members of the 
National Assembly, with the leading lights of the Bench, 
the Army, the Academy, and all the State Departments. 

The more important provincial mayors had also been 
invited, and a number of foreign burgomasters, among 
them the Lord Mayor of London, who arrived in his 
magnificent gilt coach with the celebrated coachman, 
footmen, and outriders, his sword-bearer and his sheriffs, 
all in the glory of their picturesque costumes. 

Marshal MacMahon arrived at half-past eight punc- 
tually. Before taking his place, he made a tour of inspec- 
tion, examining the corridors, which were, he thought, 
insufficiently lighted, and the grand staircase whose 
sumptuousness was a wonder to all. The red curtain 
with its gold fringe was adjudged superb. The women 
wore their gayest gowns and the number and variety of 
the uniforms present gave the whole an air of fSte. 

"The curtain rose on the opening bars of La Juive 
[to quote again from Figaro]. An effective scene, a 
little overweighted by the draperies over the ceiling. 
Villaret, Marie Krauss, and Basquin sang with power 
and vivacity, but were not then applauded. For one 
thing, the attention of the audience was on the house 
rather than on the stage, and for another it is customary 
on these gala nights to reserve applause until a lead 
is given by the head of the State. . . . 

"Another wave of excitement passing through the 
audience marked the arrival of Queen Isabella of Spain 
and her son, Alphonso XII. All the lorgnettes were 
trained on the young king, and this battery of curiosity 
had almost the effect of a public pronouncement. 
There were sidelong glances at the other princes pres- 
ent . . . but each man kept his reflections to himself. . . . 


"As the Act progressed, the orchestra seemed rather 
muffled, as though its sound was quenched by the humid 
air. It rallied, however, for the finale, which was 
vigorously executed by Madame Krauss and Villaret, and 
the royal procession on the stage was of such unparal- 
leled splendour that enthusiasm bore down etiquette 
and loud applause burst out. . . " 

During the entr'acte , the audience gave free rein to their 
curiosity. They poured out into the corridors and the 
foyers, open-mouthed at the grandiose plan and the flam- 
boyance of the decorations. "Numerous footmen," says 
an eyewitness, "were posted in the vestibules to direct 
visitors, and their assistance was, in fact, almost indispen- 
sable in such a labyrinth." The general verdict was of 
unqualified admiration, except that the grand foyer was 
thought to be a little too narrow for its height and the 
gilding a trifle too emphatic. 

When the performance was over the audience went out 
down the great marble staircase between a double row of 
cuirassiers, whose presence was necessary to restrain the 
crowd outside from surging in and invading the building. 

So throughout the city there echoed the sounds of re- 
building and reconstruction. But if the frame was being 
renovated the canvas was not. More or less the same 
people were doing much the same things which they had 
done under the Empire, save that entertaining perhaps 
was a little less lavish, a little less original. A sort of middle 
class prudence took control of the social life, the art, and 
the literature of this period of transition. 

The loud voice of Emile Zola was an exception; so also 
was the hyper-realism of Edmond de Goncourt. But the 
hour of naturalism had not yet struck. People subscribed 
to the moral order, and they demanded the same intellec- 
tual diversions as had been provided for them under 
Napoleon III., 

The favourite writer of the period was Ludovic Halevy, 
whose facile and frivolous romances were very popular. 
Ferdinand Fabre, that conscientious annalist of the 
French clergy, did not intrude a single subversive note. 


Alphonse Daudet continued to enchant his readers, but 
they preferred him in his role of picturesque story-teller 
to that of the ironic observer of Parisian life and morals. 
To be fashionable then one had to be prudent, discreet, 
and almost dull. 

In the theatre, there was a revival of the operetta, that 
old friend of the defunct regime who had been interred 
during those fatal years of war but was now resurrected 
and singing at the top of her voice. The popularity of 
the operetta rose to undreamt-of heights with Charles 
Lecocq's Fille de Madame Angot. As Offenbach is the 
typical musical figure of the Second Empire, so is Lecocq 
of the fifteen years following. 

La Fille de Madame Angot, whose success was to be as 
striking as La Belle Hetine, found it very difficult to get 
a presentation at all. Cantini, the director of the Folies- 
Dramatiques, had declined it, whereupon Lecocq took it 
to Brussels. Only the proof of its success there had in- 
duced Cantini to give it a hearing in Paris at all, and then 
he only proposed to put it on for a fortnight "while we 
are rehearsing something else". 

The audience fell on it from the start. Every song 
was encored repeatedly and next morning all Paris was 

"Ah! c'est done toi, madame Barras." 

Cantini was almost panic-stricken; he could not believe 
in the money which he saw flowing into the box-office. 
He was so dazed that he forgot to pay the artists, but on 
the hundredth performance his avarice relented so far as 
to give them a somewhat meagre supper in celebration. 
The caricaturist Cham drew a cartoon showing the in- 
effable director seated upon his bursting money-bags and 
saying, "I'll do you better on the five hundredth/' 

Lecocq was now surely launched on the tide of popu- 
larity, and his music was heard everywhere. Giroflt- 
Girofla, La Marjolaine and above all Le Petit Due became 
popular almost overnight. Their names were to echo a 
long time in the memory of Parisians, names recalling so 
many happy evenings spent listening to this music, at once 


gay and discreet, with, none of the incoherence of Herve 
or the frenzy of Offenbach; the music of after 1870 had 
grown saner across the tragic years. 

To the name of Lecocq must be added that of Robert 
Planquette, whose Cloches de Corneville was another out- 
standing success of the period. Its innocent gaiety was 
exactly suited to a taste which barred audacities, and 
whose established authors continued to serve up exactly 
what was required of them. 

It is to painting, if anywhere, we must look for the 
first signs of innovation. Puvis de Chavannes had just 
shown his Eve and Ste Genhi^ve^ magnificent decorations 
which had aroused both great enthusiasm and bitter 
criticism. But Cabanel, Bonnat, Meissonier, Dubuf e, and 
Carolus Duran continued to turn out their accomplished 
portraits without any disquieting traits. 

The newspapers of the period were full of their doings. 
They were dined and f ted, flattered and consulted, their 
little mannerisms and tantrums recorded with interest 
and respect. Their models were brought out to bask in 
this limelight; people wanted to see those faces which 
had been "immortalized", and gossip about them circu- 
lated throughout Paris. 

As, for instance, that Bouguereau's model was engaged 
at a fixed rate of 300 francs a month, with board and 
lodging in the artist's house. She passed her time in the 
kitchen, or else knitting stockings. Whenever the Master 
wanted his model he would call out, "Madame, just take 
this pose for me", and when he had finished she would go 
back to her stockings. 

Madame Bertha, Stevens's model, was one of the pret- 
tiest women in Paris. The full-breasted Adeline (nick- 
named "Madame la Tetonnire") generally posed for 
Bonnat, while Aicha, a tall girl of appalling scragginess, 
had the honour to be the original of Henri Regnier's 

Clelie, who was also as thin as a fishing-rod, generally 
posed for Meissonier. 

This little world had a place of its own in the life of 
Paris. The painters were not content merely to be talked 


about; they succeeding in imposing their ideas on the 
public, and more particularly their taste in residential 
neighbourhoods and interior decoration. This was the 
period when the little studio house in the Pare Monceau 
was all the rage. The house must be Renaissance or 
Medieval; it must be furnished "artistically". Essential 
properties were carved wooden staircases, sombre tapes- 
tries, a few pieces of immense and gloomy furniture, and 
finally and inevitably a conservatory or winter garden, 
that monument of the day before yesterday. 

The street scene went on. ... 

There was the reception of the Shah of Persia in 1873. 
That was a great event, for he was the first foreign 
sovereign to visit Paris since the war. His arrival had 
been talked about for months previously; enormous prepar- 
ations were made and crowds gathered in the streets to 
welcome him. When he appeared in his Persian turban, 
with his straight tunic and his breast glittering with 
diamonds and decorations, an enormous mob roared out 
"Fin le Sdab/" 

Another great spectacle was the funeral of Thiers. All 
Paris turned out for the occasion. The route of the 
procession was black with people. The coffin was in- 
visible under a mountain of flowers, "All heads were 
bared and in the streets nothing could be heard but the 
tramp of the soldiers and the solemn chords of the music." 

When the crowd saw the huge black banner with crape 
streamers bearing the words "From Belfort to M. Thiers", 
a shiver ran through them, the deep sigh of a people 
remembering the sorrows it has passed through. The 
spectator previously quoted, an Englishman, added: 
"Since the coronation of Queen Victoria I have never 
seen a public spectacle so impressive as the funeral of 
M. Thiers, and nothing has given me a greater respect for 
the character of the French." 

The Exhibition of 1878 was the final flower to be added 
to the bouquet of the history of the period. It is probably 
true to say that nothing has ever given so much pleasure 
to our compatriots; not even the Exhibition of 1889, which 
was more spectacular and materially more successful. 


But the Exhibition of 1878 was more than an exhibition: 
it was the visible sign of national recovery, a proof laid 
down before the world to show that France had regained 
her wealth, power, and political stability. In a trans- 
mogrified and embellished Paris, her bounds enlarged, her 
roads cleared and extended, her transport facilities im- 
proved (the first tramways had just made their appear- 
ance), it was decided to stage an exhibition which would 
make the memory of 1867 pale into insignificance. 

Marshal MacMahon was more eager than almost any- 
one, for he was so proud to think that so stupendous an 
undertaking should be associated with his term of office. 
He was in fact rather a nuisance about it, perpetually 
interrogating the promoters and worrying whether it 
would be ready by the 1st of May. 

Of course it was not ready by the 1st of May. But 
enough had been done to make the opening justifiable, 
and everybody knew that the public would accept the 
unfinished state as a respectable and time-honoured 
custom. In any case, the Marshal was satisfied and he 
proceeded radiantly to the opening ceremony. 

Despite the inclemency of the weather it was a brilliant 
sight, and if the Marshal's entourage did not rival 
the Emperor's in 1867 it was nevertheless impressive 

Among the royalties present were the Prince of Wales, 
the Crown Prince of Denmark, the Duke of Aosta, and 
Prince Henry of the Netherlands. 

When the Marshal took his pkce on the platform, his 
soldierly bearing and air of authority made a considerable 
impression upon the foreign guests. 

"When the Marshal came back" (writes M. de 
Freycinet) "to invite us to visit the Palace with him, 
we marvelled at the joy and pride so plainly glowing in 
his face. We could hardly recognize in this genial, 
smiling man, who had just been heard to pronounce the 
fatal word 'republic' without a trace of embarrassment, 
the rather dour and morose President whose official 
duties always seemed to weigh so heavily on him." 


To visit the Exhibition became the fashion throughout 
France, and visitors from the provinces arrived in droves. 

"The prosperity of the city" (said a writer in the 
Stick) "is staggering. It seems impossible to believe 
that it is really the height of the holiday season with 
its flight from Paris, for the hotels are full, the res- 
taurants are turning people away and the boulevards 
are crowded with visitors leisurely examining the 
beauties of the capital after having seen the Exhibition. 
Everything would be ideal if the cost of living had not 
gone up during the last few weeks at an alarming rate. 
We are told that this is only a passing evil and that after 
the Exhibition is closed things will return to normal. 
We hope so, but we must admit that we are not very 

The writer's pessimism was justified, for never were 
prices to drop back to the level so cherished by old 
Parisians. From this point of view the Exhibition of 
1878 was to be the precursor of a period of economic 
stress which each successive exhibition, with its fresh 
inroads into the public purse, was to accentuate. But as 
yet the leakage was inconsiderable, and there were no 
complaining voices in the unanimous chorus of joy at the 
magnificent gesture which France was making to the world. 

June 3oth was declared a public holiday and a gala day 
at the Exhibition. All along the streets and in the 
squares platforms and balconies had been improvised, 
and for the first time in many years Parisians were able 
to revert to their old tradition of communal gaiety. 

Alphand 1 had been appointed organizer of the day's 
festivities and Parliament had put 500,000 francs at his 
disposal. He indeed surpassed himself. 

"I do not suppose" (wrote M. de la Marene), "that 
such illuminations and decorations have ever been seen, 
or such a spectacle as that of the whole population 

1 Jean-Charles Adolphe Alphand, the distinguished engraver and architect of 
public works. 


of Paris, class distinctions ignored, massed together 
in the streets, revelling in the sentiments of patriotic 
joy and recovered self-esteem. There was not a single 
jarring outcry, not a single false note." 1 

The cynosure of all eyes was, of course, the Trocadero. 

"The first impression" (said an anonymous writer 
in the Revue de France) "is astounding. It may be 
Assyrian or Moresque or Byzantine, but it certainly 
takes your breath away. It is impossible to appraise this 
enormous erection at first sight. It is not in the 
style of any particular epoch; rather it combines 
them all. It is magnificent by daylight, seen from 
some distance off: but at night, viewed, say, from the 
windows of the Ecole Militaire, it is distinctly odd. 
The white silhouette, with its flanking minarets, 
framed in the darkness of the night, is like nothing so 
much as a gigantic ass's head with two upstanding 


"Well, it is an addition to the sights of Paris, anyhow/ 
was the general, if equivocal, verdict. 

But the newspapers of the period cannot be taken as 
the most reliable index to public opinion. Occupied as 
they were with their own little parochial quarrels, they 
cut a rather shabby figure. The freedom for which they 
had shrieked so loudly under the Empire had not brought 
forth either a better type of journalism or an improved 
news service. They still thought and wrote in terms of 
the cliques in the caf6s, even when their words were 
ostensibly addressed to a wider public. They still 
chattered endlessly about little incidents whose details 
could only be known by the initiate; they still continued 
to circulate incredible and unfounded rumours without 
troubling to verify them, so long as they were scandalous 
and calculated to serve the political ends of the paper. 

1 Histoire de la Rtpublique, Vol. II (Plon). 


An epigram, an anecdote, or a cock-and-bull story were 
still the fundamental ingredients of their columns. 

The proof of this is that the "leaders" of the Press 
under the Empire still held undisputed sway, with Emile 
de Girardin at their head. After 1870 it had seemed 
that his role was played out. He had just sold La Literti 
to Leonce Detroyat. He was rich and he seemed to 
have retired to his very sumptuous tent. But that devil 
of a man had journalism in his blood. It was not enough 
for him to receive every day, from seven o'clock till 
eleven, a horde of visitors retailing all the scandal of the 
capital; to rise at daybreak and to write, in lieu of news- 
paper articles, continual pamphlets on current events. 
He had to fight with his pen. 

In May 1872 he bought the Journal Official de la 
Rfyublique Frangaise and the Petit Journal Official. 
Now he was back on his hobby-horse. His political 
opinions had changed; he was reconciled to Thiers; he 
had become a Republican. From May i6th onwards 
he was one of the most implacable enemies of the 
MacMahon regime. 

Thiers himself had been the instrument of this con- 
version. On becoming chief magistrate, one of his first 
ideas was to wreak poetic justice on his old enemy 
Girardin by nominating him as senator. When he 
announced this intention to Dufaure there was con- 

"You can't possibly do that," ejaculated M. Dufaure, 
raising his hands to heaven. 

"But, my dear fellow," said Thiers, "Girardin is just 
as much for the Government as you or I." 

"Nonsense. He has betrayed every successive Govern- 
ment one after the other." 

"Well, he must have served them all, or he wouldn't 
have been able to betray them," countered Thiers. 

The affair had no sequel in fact, but it came, of course, 
to the ears of Girardin, who became more resolute than 
ever in his support of the Republican regime against its 

Another representative journalist of the first ten years 


after the Empire was Pierre Varon, the owner of Chari- 
vari. 'Elegant and frigidly polite, with his waxed mous- 
tache, and his chest perpetually thrust out a little, he 
affected a pose of great dignity, addressing his colleagues 
as from some lofty and distant pedestal. He instituted 
a system of not paying for anything over a hundred lines. 
"Make it brief, gentlemen, make it brief." And he 
added, "No article in the world is worth more than 
fifteen francs. That's my rate." 

He should have said that it was his rate for other 
people, for he took care that he himself received the 
maximum prices for his own contributions in the Siecle 
or Figaro. 

A celebrated contributor to Charivari was the cari- 
caturist Cham, who always carried his little dog Bijou 
about with him. He was long, lean, and very bald, and 
he was wont to explain the latter by saying that his hairs 
were so giddy that they quite naturally fell off. 

He was as remarkable for his verbal repartee as for his 
drawings. Replying to a deputy who had been extolling 
the salutary effect of solitary confinement on prisoners 
he said, "What about the tapeworm? Is he improved 
by having a cell to himself?" 

Cham was a Legitimist and took no pains to disguise 
his opinions. And so he might be seen talking with old 
white-headed Daumier, who spent his last years making 
a melancholy tour of the Paris newspaper offices, before 
going to his absinthe at the Cafe Helder. 

If not quite as bitter as under the Empire, the relations 
between the newspapers and the censorship were often 
sharp enough. Le Sifflet> which was run by a certain 
Michel Anezo, was summoned almost every other week 
to the Ministry of the Interior because its proofs affronted 
the censors. 

"I don't know what this drawing purports to repre- 
sent/' they would say, "but it seems to be full of insulting 
allusions to the Government." 

"Indeed? But what are they?" 

"That pig in the corner, wallowing in the mud, seems 
to us to resemble M. de Broglie." 



"Well, you said it." 

"You may not have meant it, of course, but there is 
no doubt that the public would get that impression. 
And the wood-cutter attacking the tree looks remarkably 
like Emile de Girardin about to launch another of his 
attacks on the Government. No, this cartoon won't do. 3 ' 

"Oh, all right then. We'll just have a nice little 
picture of Saint Joseph." 

The Carillon, too, was always in trouble with the 
censors. Whatever animal its cartoonist portrayed they 
would be bound to detect in it a likeness to Marshal 
MacMahon. If the artist drew a complete menagerie 
they would identify the whole Ministry. It was a 
never-ending war, in which, however, the offenders 
quite frequently came out on top. 

After Girardin retired from La Liberte^ this paper, 
under Leonce Detroyat, became one of the principal 
journals of the day, ranking with L'Evenement or Figaro. 
Detroyat was a remarkable figure. Formerly a naval 
lieutenant, he had taken part in the expedition to 
Mexico and had brought back the ill-fated Princess 
Charlotte to France. He returned to marry a great- 
niece of Girardin's and went into journalism, but only 
reluctantly, as his great ambition was always to become 
a singer. He boasted a very good baritone voice and 
vented his repertoire wherever he happened to be, 
writing an article or correcting proofs, so that the walls 
of the Libertf offices literally shook at the voice of their 

An even odder figure was Magnier, the proprietor of 
UEvenement. Magnier was a legend on the boulevards. 
His debts, his creditors, his thousand and one ways of 
raising money, provided inexhaustible gossip for thirty 
years. Every journalist between 1870 and 1890 had 
collected anecdotes of Magnier, but his colleagues 
naturally dispensed the choicest vintage. 

He was an inimitable figure, straight out of Balzac. 
For thirty years he managed to run the best-informed and 
most amusing paper in Paris without ever knowing 
whether the next day would bring in enough money to 


enable him to issue a number. He had pockets like 
sieves; money flowed through his fingers with incon- 
ceivable rapidity, and he was constantly making frantic 
and futile efforts to hold a little of it back. Everything 
was fish that came to his net. He invented the method 
of disguised publicity, of paid social announcements, of 
payments for "silence" when convenient, or conversely 
for "attacks" when considered advisable. 

When Georges Duval first joined Ufivtnement he 
reports that he was just a little disturbed at overhearing 
the following conversation in the reporters' room: 

"What are you on?" 

"A review of Madame L- '$ new book." 

"But Magnier says he doesn't want any more literary 

"Well, he only commissioned it this morning." 

"Oh, I suppose it's paid for, then?" 

"No. It isn't paid for, but you see Madame L is 

the mistress of a banker from whom Magnier has 
hopes. . . ." 

"Well, Pm afraid to write a line about anybody in case 
he turns out to be one of Magnier's creditors. The other 
day I put in a puff of the Comte d'Essone's ball, and 
Magnier howled the place down because the Comte once 
dunned him for fifteen hundred francs. Only yester- 
day I wrote a note about Paul de Sezenay. 'Sezenay,' 
screamed Magnier. 'A man who tells everybody I owe 
him three hundred francs. What next! 3 " 

"I'll tell you a better one than that. Last month the 
Theatre Ambigu was going to produce La Femme du 
Veuf : On the eve of the first night Magnier went to 
Dollingen to ask for a loan, which the latter promised on 
condition that Magnier would 'cut up' La Femme du 
Feuf, whose author, Libert, had once ridiculed Dollingen 
in a scurrilous rag. Magnier came to me and said: 
Write me a slashing attack on the thing.' 

"But Libert was not the sole author of La Femme du 
Veuf. His collaborator was Fussot, and Fussot was the 
director of the Loterie du Nord. To attack Fussot, 
reflected Magnier, was to lose a subsidy; to praise Libert 


was to lose a loan. So, under his instruction, I wrote 
the following: *In La Femme du Veuj we can plainly 
recognize the skilful hand of the talented M. Fussot. 
But why has he allowed himself to be burdened with a 
collaborator? Is there to be no limit to these dramatic 
concubinages? . . ."' 

Every night Magnier's contributors hung around the 
office with anxiety writ plain upon their faces* Were 
they going to get paid? They argued and speculated 
until, at last, his carriage was sighted, and then, like a 
match to a train of powder, word would be passed round 
that Magnier had no money but was giving still more 

These "notes" were scraps of paper on which the pro- 
prietor had written "Good for 100 francs (or 200 francs 
or 300 francs) and payable next Monday." And when 
Monday came and the notes were presented to the 
cashier he would say either that he had no money or that 
he had received no instructions. The unfortunate 
holders of the "notes" would still keep alive a spark of 
hope for the next few days, and anyhow, no one ever 
got really angry. Magnier had a way with him that cut 
short all discussion. Not even Scholl or Claretie dared 
to show his teeth, for every now and then Magnier 
would throw them a few louis, when he had it, 

If Magnier was the most picturesque figure of the 
newspaper world, Villemessant of the Figaro was the 
most celebrated. There was a Villemessant legend as 
well as a Magnier legend, and the combined myths of 
both were inexhaustible. 

Villemessant was the complete newspaper man, the 
man who was so haunted by news that he had to manu- 
facture it if it was not forthcoming elsewhere. Depen- 
dent as he was almost entirely upon popular support, he 
was much more easily influenced by public rumour and 
gossip than any of the other great editorial figures of 
the day. Whether he chanced to be in a restaurant, a 
theatre, or any other public place, the first criticism he 
happened to overhear from any fool discussing his con- 
tributors was seized upon by Villemessant and elevated 


to the position of reigning criterion. He would rush back 
to his office, enraptured or enraged, as the case might be, 
send immediately for the writer, and compliment or 
dismiss him on the spot. 

This habit of his was common knowledge, and in- 
terested persons consequently made a practice of engaging 
a table at one of his favourite restaurants and loudly 
praising or blackguarding a certain article in Villemes- 
sant's hearing. Nine times out of ten the trick worked. 

Every Wednesday he used to dine at Bonvalet's in the 
boulevard du Temple with a number of wealthy business 
men. After dinner they would play heavily, and the next 
day, round about twelve o'clock, the staff of Figaro would 
await their master's arrival in fear and trembling. If the 
cards had gone against him, he would be in the most evil 
rage, and the first man to offend him would most cer- 
tainly be flung into the street. But when he had won he 
was excessively liberal, and honorariums were freely dis- 

Certainly these were trying times for harassed journa- 
lists, but it must be remembered that the prestige of 
Figaro was then very high and the profession of journalism 
extremely precarious. 

Finally, there were, of course, mad journalists then as 
always. The lunatic of the period was one Guyot Mon- 
payroux, who had once edited the Courier de France 
with Robert Mitchell, and ended by running it alone. 
Gifted with a ready wit, a facile pen, and hail-fellow-well- 
met at all the cafes, few people foresaw his melancholy end. 
He became obsessed by the delusion that he had access 
to inexhaustible riches, and proclaimed that he had 30 
milliards of francs in his possession with which to ransom 
Alsace-Lorraine from Germany. One day he announced 
that he was going to give a magnificent dinner to all his 
old colleagues on the Courier, and that, at the end of the 
dinner, he was going to give each one of them a million 
francs with the dessert. 

A million francs, to a journalist! Nobody doubted now 
that Guyot Monpayroux was mad, and the same night 
he was taken away to an asylum. 



so far we have simply been surveying a post-mortem 
prolongation of the life of the Second Empire. There is 
nothing either in art, letters, science, or craftsmanship 
which has the slightest smack of revolution. The world 
of 1878 was the world of 1855 or 1869 * n everything 
except the nominal form of government. The Republic 
was only a name; there was no sign of the ferment of art, 
of the approaching pontificate of science, of the vast in- 
crease of mechanical progress. Prudence, moderation 
and order were the maxims which governed the world of 
ideas; the revolutionary notions of 1848 seemed lost in the 
darkness of forgotten time. 

But a new breath arose in the year 1880, still only a 
faint breath with little tang of that violence and harshness 
which was to mark it out in history. But that breath was 
to become a hurricane with extraordinary rapidity. The 
full blast of liberty caught up the mind of the times 
in a dervish dance of enfranchisement; then, as ever, 
freedom appearing suddenly engendered every sort of 
excess. And it is this excess which we have to chronicle 
in all its ramifications during the next twenty years. 

Political life is marked by a series of movements tending 
to one or other extreme, or at least to what was then 
considered extreme Radicalism or Boulangism. In art, 
the naturalistic: school, beginning as a protest, was to 
establish itself triumphantly all along the line. In the 
financial and business world, gigantic operations and co- 
operations, abounding naturafly in equally gigantic frauds 
and failures, were to bring home the reality of the new 
order to a people little accustomed to consider the fluc- 
tuations of the Bourse as having any direct reflection on 
their daily lives. 

Finally and predominantly, Science (with a capital S) 
was to impose itself on all. The scientist has become, 
little by little, the grand conductor of the world's 



symphony orchestra. The Exhibition of 1889, at the end 
of this first decade of scientific progress, marked his first 
triumph and the first public appreciation of his new role. 

That Marshal MacMahon should have been swept out 
of the Elysee by the lawyer Jules Grevy was in itself a 
breach between the old order, aristocratic, religious, and 
conservative, and the new order, ostensibly dominated by 
the professional classes and the wealthy bourgeoisie, but 
more and more eroded by the waves of the lower middle 
classes and by the proletariat. This was evident from 
the first of the new receptions at the Elysee: it was to be 
increasingly evident later on. 

It was not that Grevy himself was so terrible. Edmond 
About said of him that he drank and ran after women and 
was consequently an ideal President of the French. He 
was one of those jovial men who are by no means devoid 
of guile, and he could be just as impressive as anybody 
else in a frock-coat. 

The significance of Monsieur Grevy lay not so much in 
his personality or his class as in the fact that, for the first 
time, the premier magistrate of the Republic had been 
chosen from the professed and uncompromising enemies 
of the old regime. If it could not quite be said of Grevy 
that he was "the good companions' president," he was 
certainly favoured by all the journalists in the Cafe 
de Madrid, to whom he was supposed to have said imme- 
diately on his election, "Come and lunch at the Elysee 
whenever you like. Just look on it as your home." 

Certainly, from die time he took possession of it, 
the famous palace became the most humdrum of middle- 
class residences. Henceforth there were to be no ftes 
and no galas. The President lived in voluntary retirement 
maintaining a discretion verging on absolute silence with 
his entourage. He seemed to have fallen into a tranced 
sleep from the afternoon of his arrival. 

The faithful guardian of the Constitution, jealously 
shut up in his palace, provided little copy for the news- 
papers. He took a daily walk through the park to the kke 


and fed the ducks. Back in the palace, he would receive 
his callers and show them out himself with an elaborate 
courtesy which concealed, says one witness, a certain 
vacancy of mind. He always seemed to be immensely 

Every Sunday the clash of steel resounded. One of the 
large salons on the ground floor was converted into a 
duelling ground, where the president's son-in-law, Daniel 
Wilson, a mediocre swordsman but passionately devoted 
to the art, assembled his fellow enthusiasts. Sword-play 
was all the vogue then. It had been brought into fashion 
by Jacob, of the Faubourg Montmartre, and it was he 
who presided over the sessions at the Elysee. The com- 
batants were generally asked to stay on to lunch by the 
President or Madame Wilson, and as soon as coffee was 
over they would begin to play billiards, at which both 
Grevy and his son-in-law were very proficient. 

When chess and shooting (once his favourite sport) 
have been added to this catalogue of amusements, the 
distractions of this President who pretended to make the 
Elysee into a comfortable middle-class home are complete. 
He had a horror of official receptions, and he did not 
hesitate to permit himself to be overcome by fatigue. 
He.was so regularly to be found on these occasions, towards 
the end of the evening, asleep in a certain corner that 
his intimates always went straight there to look for him. 
The great world went on around him the balls, the 
dinners, the receptions for distinguished foreigners. 
Among the Republican aristocracy and the more distin- 
guished administrators and civil servants who thronged 
the salons, there began to appear certain persons "always 
bearded and with long black ties bisecting their shirt 
fronts". 1 They would promenade in silence, con- 
temptuously surveying the worldly time-serving throng. 
These were the Presents, intransigeant Republicans 
silently manifesting the purity of their ideals among these 
mirrored salons whose panels still bore the flower- 
enwreathed initials "N" and "E". 
But the new order demanded something more tangibly 

1 Robert de Bonni&res: Memories d'aujourd'bui) Vol. I, p. 23. 


democratic tlian these receptions- They wanted spec- 
tacles and free shows on a large scale, and at the H6tel de 
Ville they got them. 

For some years the building had been in course of recon- 
struction. At last the work was sufficiently far advanced 
to permit the organization of a fte in the reception- 
rooms. The date chosen was July I3th 1882, and it was 
decided to make this a really democratic occasion. Hun- 
dreds were invited to the banquet, and thousands of 
invitations for the dance which was to follow were show- 
ered on the citizens. 

And the President of the Republic was to preside over 
the affair in person. 

Freycinet, the President of the Council, and all the 
Ministers. Charles Floquet, the Seine Prefet, and all 
those in any way connected with the administrative staff 
of the H6tel de Ville were there, together with foreign 
Ministers and certain prominent people such as Victor 
Hugo, whose presence would be certain to arouse popular 

The banquet was fized very early, at six o'clock, so as 
to allow as long as possible for the dancing which followed. 
From two in the afternoon onwards an immense and 
noisy crowd began to gather in the vicinity of the H6tel 
de Ville until the streets around were black with people. 

Under the command of regular army officers, squads 
of cadets from the military schools gave displays in the 
square for the edification of the spectators. They received 
their usual enthusiastic reception, for ever since the war 
these military cadets, the hopes of the future revanche, 
were enormously popular with the Parisians* 

Punctually at six o'clock Monsieur Gr6vy arrived and 
entered the building to the strains of the "Marseillaise." 

Five immense tables filled the banqueting-hall. The 
official speeches were up to the usual standard of grandilo- 
quent fatuity: as usual they celebrated "the launching of 
the vessel of State in new waters", praised "the mother- 
land of art and letters", "the charm of the Parisienne and 
the incomparable quality of the City of Light". These 
rites accomplished, there wa$ a rush from the tables so that 


the attendants could magically dispose of the two thou- 
sand glasses, the four thousand plates and the five hundred 
napkins with a rapidity over which the next day's news- 
papers were to wax lyrical. 

Victor Hugo, a little overwhelmed, was ceremoniously 
conducted to his carriage by Monsieur Floquet, and then 
at nine o'clock the salons were ready for the inrush of the 
two thousand chosen with their precious little pieces of 
pink pasteboard, who had been fretting outside for two 
hours or more. 

And then began a scene which the newspapers were 
to describe as "unbelievable", "incredible", and "unparal- 
leled". Looking out on the uncharted seas of democratic 
revelry from the Jittle room reserved for the diplomats, 
the Prefet of the Seine anxiously inquired of one of his 
subordinates, "Are you quite sure you can depend upon 
the police?" 

Thousands of anecdotes about this celebrated ball are 
current. Substantial dames from the markets turned up 
in full regalia; numbers of electors came in lounge suits 
and some even kept their hats on, until firmly repri- 
manded by the attendants. There was almost a riot round 
the buffet. Bottles of champagne disappeared wholesale; 
broken sandwiches and cakes flew through the air and 
littered the corners of the room; while it was rumoured 
that two thousand cigars had vanished while the ban- 
queting-tables were being removed. There were stories 
of pocketed silver, of mountains of broken glass, and of 
pitched battles raging round the possession of a cream cake. 

All this was doubtless exaggerated grossly. Rumour and 
the Press alike were evidently in sore need of lessons in 

And while this orgy was taking place within, outside 
on the balconies singers from the Opera discoursed the 
"Marseillaise" from full throats to the surging crowd 
below, a scene which, on that summer night, was not 
without imaginative grandeur, as even the most rabid of 
the anti-Governmental journals was moved to announce 
on the morrow. 


It was not only in the political world that the disap- 
pearance of the old values was to show so markedly. In 
the world of art, letters, and journalism the battle for 
"naturalism" was raging. It had been carried on for ten 
years previously by the most determined partisans of the 
school, and now Zola and his colleagues were on the eve 
of their triumph. 

In a curious entry in his Journal, Edmond de Goncourt 
remarks to the Princess Mathilde that it was the Empire's 
own fault that the author of Les Rougon-Mac quart turned 

"Zola was penniless" (said de Goncourt to the Prin- 
cess) "and he had a mother and a family to keep. The 
only papers which would take his articles were the 
. republican ones. And, working with these men, he 
adopted their views as was only to be expected. 
You will never know, Princess, how great were the 
services which you rendered to the Tuileries, how many 
hatreds and envies you have dispersed, what a buffer 
you were between the Government and the more 
acrimonious of the scribes. Take Flaubert and me, if 
we had not been bought over, so to speak, by your 
grace, your charm, and your kindness, we should both 
have been among the most implacable of the enemies 
of the Emperor and the Empress." 

It is possible that the salons did in fact exercise a 
moderating effect, politically, upon these two writers 
whose literary creed was so revolutionary, but it must not 
be forgotten that they both were by birth and fortune 
naturally allied to the aristocratic and wealthy classes. 
But Edmond de Goncourt could not deny that despite 
the Princesse Mathilde the whole tendency of the literary 
work of the period was towards a literal and scientific 
verisimilitude, however brutal or unpalatable that veri- 
similitude might be, and that a tendency of that kind 
must inevitably end, as it did end, in the gutter which it 
sought, with whatever motive. De Goncourt himself, 
the exquisite narrator of Rent Mauptrin, had descended 


> in Germinie Lacerteux to a world where manners and taste 
were unknown. And lie was to descend further with La 
Fille Elisa. 

The spirit of scientific inquiry, under whose auspices 
Zola had begun his examination of the destinies of the 
Rougon-Macquart family, even more quicMy identified 
itself with democracy, for the spirit of scientific inquiry 
is ranged first in inevitable opposition to revealed truth 
as such, until it comes to mean simply "advanced" ideas 
on all political, religious, and moral subjects, as opposed 
to traditional ones. 

The immense influence of the scientific writing of the 
time imposed itself on everything. Darwin's Origin of 
Species and Bernard's Experimental Philosophy were pub- 
lished during the lifetime of the Second Empire, as were 
the earlier writings of Renan, Taine, and Fustel de 
Coulanges, which were so directly influenced by the 
former, and by the year 1880 the flood was at its height, 
and there was no department of art and letters remaining 

Zola with his theory of naturalism may be taken as the 
most representative writer of this particular epoch. For 
him novel-writing was a branch of scientific inquiry, 
and the novelist must be a scientist. His creed is sig- 
nificant. He states: "I am a positivist, an evolutionist, 
a materialist." 

The critical examination which Sainte-Beuve applied 
to literary history and Taine to history itself, Zola tried 
to turn on to the fictitious history of the personages he 
invented. For the wayward caprices of human imagination 
he desired to substitute the precise and calculable auto- 
mata of scientific observation. And he set himself to his 
task with indomitable energy and purpose. 

He did not shirk the labour, the boredom, or the fatigue 
necessary to obtain documentary verisimilitude that is 
to say, a scientific description of a fact. Domestic by 
temperament, there was no curious by-way of life that he 
would not explore if his work demanded it. He went 
down into a mine to see how the miners lived; he would 
travel with an engine-driver; spend whole nights in the 


markets watching the labourers; wade through breviaries 
and orders of ritual; follow sessions of the Bourse, and 
apply himself to botany or natural history. 

With his pencil always in his hand and his ears always 
alert for what they might pick up, he was to impose him- 
self upon the public imagination as the typical author, 
a kind of superior reporter (before the word was current) 
an indefatigable note-taker of everything that he saw and 

Pushed as they were beyond the bounds of moderation, 
such habits were bound to result in some ludicrous scenes, 
when the novelist would vest himself with the bland 
omniscience of the savant, fondly imagining that he had 
in a few hours mastered the secrets of ways of living 
which were utterly remote from him. 

There is an amusing story of how, when writing 
UAssommoir, he wished to investigate the household of 
a wealthy financier in order to describe the residence of 
his character, Sac. So he procured an invitation to a 
reception where, indifferent to the laws of courtesy and 
the people around him, insensible to the great artists who 
had been engaged to sing and to play, Zola rummaged 
through one room after another, scrutinizing the furniture 
and the pictures, and entering in his note-book, with the 
cold accuracy of an auctioneer, the precise inventory of 
what he saw. 

A similar adventure, in a different milieu, befell him 
when he was writing Nana. Having no acquaintance 
among light ladies of the wealthier sort, but insistent all 
the same upon absolute accuracy, he accepted an invita- 
tion to dine with a celebrated courtesan whose clientele 
included some of the most notable men of the time. The 
house was bewildering in its opulence; the richness of the 
silks and the carpets and the silver was almost dazzling. 
Before dinner he had made a sheaf of notes and was en- 
gaged in appraising things. At dinner he was asked to the 
hostess's table with some of the best talkers in Paris, Zola 
appeared to see nothing and to hear nothing. He did not 
say a word. Presently, it seemed as though he wanted to 
speak, and a respectful silence was accorded for the 


celebrated novelist. It was a prolonged silence. At last 
Zola said: 

"How high is your ceiling, madaine?" 

The reply was put down in the note-book. 

On leaving the table he asked permission to inspect his 
hostess's bedroom. It was not granted. 

And so, above all and everywhere, the "document" (to- 
morrow it was going to be called the "slice of life") was 
the basis of the new school. Whether it was Alphonse 
Daudet with his scenes of passionate emotion, J. K. Huys- 
mans with his relentless realism, Leon Hennique, Paul 
Alexis, Edmond de Goncourt, or Jules Valles, all based 
their attitude upon the literary formula of the Third 

But the new cult was not going to stop with the new 
school of novelists. It was going much further. It was 
to influence journalism, manners, and morals. The pas- 
sion for crude realism led inevitably to an increase of 
pornography. What truth might have gained morality 
certainly lost. The most scandalous of publications and 
spectacles were born one day and suppressed the next, and 
for a quarter of a century the fight between the censor- 
ship and the offenders was waged unremittingly. 

Curiously enough, amid all this ferment of ideas the 
French theatre, which has always pkyed so considerable 
a part on social life, remained quite unprogressive. The 
case for naturalism had been pleaded and granted in 
letters; it suffered setback after setback in the theatre. 
In 1872 ISArlesienne failed, despite Bizet's music; in 1882 
Les Corbeaux by Henry Becque, Zola's Tbtrlse Raquin, 
Michel Pauper and La Parisienne all failed. The public 
which revelled in Nana and Sapbo declined to extend its 
support to plays inspired by a similar aesthetic and 
remained obstinately faithful to Scribe and Sardou. 

The man who was to change all this was Antoine with 
his Theatre-Libre. 

Everybody now knows how this humble employee of a 
gas company, passionately attached to the theatre from 
his earliest youth and believing fervently in his destiny, 
found the means, though without money or influence, to 


stage a programme which included Jacques Damour, a 
play by Leon Hennique based on Zola's novel. 

The play attracted the attention of the Press, and the 
newspaper articles proved to be a lighted train to powder, 
Paris was alight, and Antoine, despite an almost desperate 
financial situation, found the means to carry on to success; 
and the little room in the Passage de l'Ely$6e-des-Beaux- 
Arts became one of the most sought-after places for smart 
Parisian first nights. 

The audience was restricted to subscribers and guests, 
an ingenious method devised by Antoine both to raise 
immediate cash and to outwit the censor. The Passage de 
1'Elysee-des-Beaux-Arts is off the Place Pigalle, and about 
eight o'clock in the evening crowds of smart Parisians and 
Parisiennes could be found picking their way through the 
booths of the fair, 1 and scrutinizing through their eye- 
glasses the names of streets on the tablets in the hope of 
discovering the famous but obscure turning. At last they 
would find it and penetrate into the little hall, naively 
ornamented with primitive decoration like a village con- 

"You could shake hands with the actors across the 
footlights" (said Jules Lemaitre) "and stretch your legs 
out into the prompter's box. The stage was so small 
that only the most elementary scenic attempts were 
possible, and the audience was so close that illusion 
was an impossibility. We could feel ourselves akin to 
the spectators of the great days of the theatre, the 
fellows of Shakespeare and Molire." 

Crowded on the benches, for there were no chairs in 
this exiguous "theatre", were such leading lights of the 
Parisian literary, artistic, and social worlds as Henri 
Fouqier, Zola, Francisque Sarcey, Jean Richepin, Fran- 
pois Coppee, Paul Arene, CoqueHn, Duez, and Chabrier. 

There would be also a number of fashionable ladies, 
their heads adorned with paradise feathers the great 
craze of the moment secured by a fine and almost 

1 The fair of Montmartrc lasted down to the opening of the present 


invisible gold band. Their long-waisted bodices were out- 
lined by braid to form a plastron in front, and their busts 
were adorned with Oriental jewellery, Byzantine crosses, 
Italian filigree pendants, and the like. Their elaborate 
shoes were embroidered velvet, plush or Hd, and as it was 
the fashion to show them, skirts were accordingly curtailed. 

Some of the more elegant started a mode for pastel 
colours soft blues and greys, pale faded rose and ivory 
with a spray of lilac or a posy of forget-me-nots for sole 

Such a public was taken by storm at the originality of 
the scene, the unusual surroundings and the unforced but 
moving simplicity of the players. Antoine, Mevisto, and 
Burguet in Brieux's IS Evasion, Louise France and Felici 
Mallet in La Fin de Lucie Pellegrin, Henri Mayer in 
UEcole des Veujs, held the stage without artifice, exag- 
geration, or sacrifice of reality. No more ranting, no 
more declaiming, no more forced pathos. Actual life 
was being lived out on the boards, with a fidelity which 
the audience had never known or had forgotten. 

And so, having triumphantly taken possession of the 
novel, realism invaded the stage. Not only in Paris but 
throughout Europe the battle was won, and the realistic 
formula, so admirably suited to the concepts of the 
moment, became the stock-in-trade of every would-be 
dramatist for the next twenty years. 

It was also to conquer pictorial art, through the work 
of its chief adepts, Manet, Roll, and Henri Gervex. The 
first had always been a rebel and had struggled for years 
to get his work accepted by the authorities, but the two 
latter, and particularly the last named, established them- 
selves and their aesthetic creed at a single stroke. 

In his decorations for the Mairie of a Parisian ward, 
Henri Gervex displayed the same qualities of force, direct 
vision and boldness of conception as the most determined 
partisans of the Goncourt school could demand. His next 
work was the "Premieres Communiantes", the treatment 
of which roused much controversy, but the culminating 
sensation, which unleashed a cyclone of criticism, was the 
famous "Rolla", painted when the artist was twenty-six. 


Technically, the picture attempted to handle a veiy com- 
plicated lighting problem, but the sensation resided in 
the realism of various details, such as the tumbled under- 

woman, which were of hitherto unprecedented boldness. 

Every one went to the salon to gaze at the picture which 
so signally embodied the revolutionary moveftient in 
painting. After several days the Ministry of fine Arts 
decided to be shocked, although nobody either in public 
or in the newspapers had raised a protest, and the picture 
was taken down from the exhibition. 

The artist and his friends, all fervent partisans of the 
new movement, were not thus to be defeated. They 
hired a showroom in the rue Chaussee d'Antin where the 
picture could be displayed freely to the even larger crowds 
which flocked to see it, its undeniable artistry forming the 
most effective protest against official standards of taste. 

But a revolution does not stop where the more virtuous 
of its protagonists desire to arrest it. The abrupt change 
of taste from the agreeable romances of Edmond About 
to the brutal realities of Zola and his school gave an 
immense impetus to the manufacture of pornography, 
disguised very thinly or not at all. It is perhaps possible 
for a great artist to say anything without offence, but it 
is certainly impossible to prevent a horde of mediocre 
and disreputable writers from exploiting the freedom 
claimed. The naturalist creed, with its avowed pre- 
dilection for "slices of life", resulted in the production of 
an immense number of "slices" of the rawest and dirtiest 
description. There is always a certain public for porno- 
graphy, and there is also, unhappily, a still larger public 
liable to corruption. Despite the efforts of the censor- 
ship the French novel of the next decade is infected by a 
plague of obscenity. 

But the demoralization of letters was as nothing com- 
pared with the demoralization of the Press. The news- 
papers, so recently released from a strict and indeed 
preposterous surveillance, were naturally bursting with 


enthusiasm for the new order. An avaknche of scandalous 
sheets, with no trace of any other purpose but to regale 
their readers with indecent and libellous anecdotes, were 
born and flourished in the years following 1880. Most 
of them need not be exhumed, but there is one which 
despite its audacities must be reckoned in a class apart. 

Gil Bias was founded by Auguste Dumont, a former 
printer who had risen to the editorial chair of Figaro. 
Villemessant had marked him out for what he was, a man 
who knew how to exact the most rigid economies and who 
would never permit a pennyworth of unjustified expendi- 
ture. His parsimony was notorious. Maximin Rude 
tells a story of how Villemessant arrived at the Figaro 
office one day to find the staff sitting idle with empty 

"Well, what are you waiting for?" 

Some one explained that they had no pens and were 
waiting for Dumont, who had gone out to buy some. 

"You'd better send out the office-boy at once," said 
the proprietor. "Dumont will have gone all round the 
town to see where he can get them cheapest and you can 
be sure that he won't waste any money on 'bus fares." 

So prudent a man was bound to succeed, and during 
his association with Figaro, Dumont amassed a modest 
fortune which, after he left Villemessant, enabled him to 
run several profitable weeklies and finally led him to found 
Gil Bias. 

Shrewd and malicious, with cold, lightning-blue eyes 
that summed a man up in a glance, Dumont was well able to 
scent whence the wind blew. The heat of the literary 
battle around the naturalist standard, the growth of 
public appetite for audacities and crudities, gave him the 
idea of combining both in a weekly where literature should 
have a serious place, while the utmost frankness and 
audacity should characterize the general matter. 

The new journal was obviously modelled on Figaro in 
externals, and the whole of the front page was given over 
to the gossip of Paris, artistic, literary, social, and merely 
scandalous, thus linking the new journalism with the 
intimate gossip sheets of the old regime. 


But there was more than that in Gil Bias, for Dumont 
had gathered round him some of the ablest writers of the 
day. Theodore de Banville, Henry Fouqier (under the 
pseudonym of Columbine), Jean Richepin, Armand Sil- 
vestre and Emile Villemont were among those whose 
stories and sketches soon made the paper the best exemplar 
of the weekly of the period. And when, some few years 
later, Fernand Xau reduced the price to five centimes, 
the democratization of the French literary newspaper was 

Of all the editorial staff the Baron de Vaux (known as 
the Diable Boiteux from the signature of his inflamma- 
tory front page) was the most in demand. Day by day 
his door was besieged by rakes of both sexes, would-be 
duellists, flashy actresses and innumerable flotsam and 
jetsam whom he would receive with equal familiarity. 

"Oh, it's you, is it? Well, what do you want?" 

And he would usher them in with a conciliatory pat on 
the back rather like the pat and the lump of sugar given 
to a restive horse. 

The Baron de Vaux was the recognized authority on that 
considerable and diverse section of Parisian society conven- 
iently known as "the boulevards", to whom his "echoes" 
served at once as a flail and a profitable advertisement. 
People simultaneously hoped and dreaded to be pilloried 
in an "echo", and it was not without fear and trembling 
that pretty little Thespian aspirants gathered round his 

So it was all very picturesque and amusing in the office 
of Gil Bias, down to the commissionaire who had once 
been a drummer in the Army, and who used to parade the 
daily muster of pretty ladies before the Baron or Dumont 
with a military flourish and a salute which made the 
former call the ceremony "reviewing the troops of 

After Dumont, the paper was run by a certain Rene 
d'Hubert, a young man of good family and irreproachable 
elegance, but animated by a passion for appearing and 
disappearing, popping in at one door and out of another, 
which made his presence on the paper always a matter for 


speculation. But the journal continued to flourish, and 
to the brilliant galaxy of its contributors were added such 
rising stars as Guy de Maupassant, Catulle Mendes, and 
Abel Hermant. Gil Bias remained the premier literary 

?aper of Paris until it was outstripped first by the Echo de 
arts and finally by the Journal. 

Below Gil Bias, very far below indeed, comes the long 
list of more or less scabrous journals that were the public 
plague of the period. In them the wit of their prototype 
gave place to flat indecency, and its barbed innuendo to a 
brutal outspokenness. The very titles of these papers, 
which were pursued unremittingly by the censor, are 
evocative of the period. M. Charles Virmaitre 1 has pre- 
served them for our curious contemplation. 

There was the Boudoir, appearing in 1880, UEvenement 
Parisian, Le Piron, Le Bocace, Le Decameron, La Lanterne 
des Cochons de Paris, La Grwoiserie Parisienne, L'Asticot, 
Le Rabelais, UAlfhonse et Nana, all dating from the same 
year. Prosecutions were numerous: in one year the pro- 
prietors and editors of L'Evtnement Parisien received two 
years* imprisonment and were fined six thousand francs; 
Le Piron got thirteen months, Bocace nine months, La 
Grivoiserie Parisienne two months, and so on. 

The odium of pre-eminence among these filthy pro- 
ductions must be awarded to one called La Bavarde. 
This united the industry of blackmail with that of por- 
nography, and it employed a network of correspondents 
all over the country. The moment one of these caught 
wind of a scandal the news was posted to the editor hot- 
foot, where it was embroidered and broadcast up and 
down France. This journal was proscribed with fines 
and imprisonments by almost every provincial bench. 

The naturalist school did not escape detraction through 
this flood of base literature which naturally furnished 
effective ammunition for its opponents. The dividing 
line between the advanced naturalists and the unalloyed 
pornographers was so thinly marked that many failed to 

1 Charles VinnaJtre: Paris-Canard. 


discern it. The tardy recognition accorded to so genuine 
and disinterested a writer as Zola himself may doubtless 
be set down to this very natural confusion in the minds of 
his readers. 

The reputable Press was united in its front against the 
offending publications. "The ashes of these shameful 
papers," wrote Le Temps on December 28th 1880, "fall 
on the bier of the departing year, whose epitaph can only 
be: Here lies 1880, the year of obscenity " 

And as, in France, everything ends up with a song, the 
revues chronicled the characteristics of the Press of the 
period. "Achetez vit, Messieurs, le journal scandaleux" 
sang charming Alice Lavigne at the Varietes. 

For realism and outspokenness were not going to stop 
at the novel, the salon, the theatre, or the Press. They 
were to make themselves felt in the daily life of Paris, in 
the very air of the city. For the time was coming when 
Montmartre was to be born Montmartre of the legend, 
Montmartre of the cabarets. 

A year after the foundation of Gil Bias, Salis founded 
Le Chat Noir, 

This event is something more significant than the in- 
troduction of a new note in entertainment, or a passing 
wave of taste. The brilliant group of artists and poets 
who gathered round Salis reincarnated the authentic 
French satiric spirit, dead among us for so many years. 
What a galaxy of names that was, from Samain to Ajal- 
bert, from Rollinat to Haraucourt, right down to Willette, 
who, at the outbreak of war was conducting the eternal 
duel with the prudent and respectable with such wit and 
enjoyment. Something native, original, and not without 
value was expressed by the swashbucklers of Montmartre, 
those men who stepped straight into legend with their 
wide-brimmed hats and flowing ties. 

They originated from the naturalist movement, but 
their attraction was that they brought something else 
into it a spice of satire, tight-lipped and unsmiling in 
the English fashion, which Emile Goudeau, Alphonse 
Allais, and Jules Jouy raised to perfection, 

To the singers came the poets and the novelists, and 


then tlie artists and the designers: Steinlen with his 
beloved cats, Caran d'Ache with his soldiers, and Henri 
Riviere,, who loved the street life of the city* 

The Chat Noir was a microcosm of the life of the time 
in medieval setting. It was at once a cafe, a restaurant, 
a literary club and a studio for painters and scene de- 
signers. The waiters wore academic dress, and Salis 
addressed his clients as "Messeigneurs", receiving them 
with the most flattering and dignified formality. Paris 
has never had anything to equal that famous cabaret, 
which from 1881 to 1889 was the unique sight of the 
capital, but the Montmartrois cabaret has remained for 
fifty years the guardian of our native wit, upon that 
historic hill from which were launched so many barbed 
arrows against the hides of the powers that be. 

A few doors away there was a very different scene, so 
directly inspired by the literature of the naturalistic 
school that it faded away with the passing of their vogue. 

This was the Cabaret Mirliton of Aristide Bruant. 

That the sombre imagination of Zola could ever have 
impressed itself upon manners or taste is due almost 
entirely to Aristide Bruant. For it was he who first 
exploited, to an ever-growing public, the sinister fascina- 
tion of the underworld of Paris, with its prostitutes and 
apaches, its blackmailers, bullies, and thieves, its evil 
brooding atmosphere oozing out into crime by stifling 
days and murky nights. This was the "emancipated" 
world which from now on was to become an official 
literary hunting-ground, a mine which poets and novel- 
ists were to explore with unabated zest for many years 
to come. 

It rapidly became the fashion for "everybody" in Paris 
to be seen at Bruant's. A long line of carriages struggled 
up the hill, bearing a crowd of fashionable people eager to 
experience the delightful shivers to be encountered in the 
proximity of this strange, long-haired man, with his 
scarlet muffler and his trousers of black velvet billowing 
over his boots. As they entered the low smoke-filled 
room, furnished only with rough benches and tables, 
Bruant would accost them in the argot of the underworld, 


going round the tables to hurl coarse invective at 
the fashionable ladies, who would blush and pale and 
shudder with delight. 

"Shut your row, blast you all!" he would cry, thumping 
the table. "Pm going to sing." 

This was a typical Parisian night's amusement in 1885 
or thereabouts. Hardly ten years before, the Marshal and 
his wife had been leading the decorous waltz at the 
Elysee, under the glittering mirrors and past the flower- 
wreathed panels that still supported "N" and "E". 

The Montmartre fashion led to the revival of the cafe 
concert, always dear to the French heart. But, inevitably, 
the cafe concert had become naturalist* too. 

It was to attain the zenith of its popularity during the 
next few years. A huge, good-natured audience, equally 
avid for sentimental ballad or dirty joke, sighed with the 
pathetic singers, guffawed with the comic, exchanged 
cross-talk with the comedians and shouted the roof off 
for the favourite stars. 

There was Theresa, Duparc, Dumay, Paulus and how 
many other interpreters of the mood of the hour in the 
songs which were hourly improvised to meet it? There 
was "The Pig's Trotter Waltz", supposed to be inspired 
by Zola's "Ventre de Paris", with its refrain; 

He calls me his little pig's chitterling 
I call him my own lump of dung. 

There was "La Femme Athlete", whose exploits were 
featured by a celebrated grotesque distust, and there were, 
of course, heart-searching sentimental ballads just as in 
the days when the life of Paris was caught up in song by 
Beranger, long before the shadow of Meudon had fallen 
on the people who gathered, by summer nights, in the 
thick-leaved shadows of the Champs-lys6es bluntly out- 
lined upon a star-strewn sky, their faces a yague blur save 
where an occasional gas-lamp shone down* 

The enormous Jeanne Bloch, with an old kifi on her 
head and a whip in her hand, flung out her raucous songs 
into these shadows; and there too was seen for the first 
time that apparition which was first to convulse and then 


to enchant not only Paris but the world. The thin, 
nervous figure, at once ascetic and sensual, in the white 
dress and the long black gloves, with the harsh graveyard 
voice that sang mournfully of love's pleasures or articu- 
lated, in searing couplets, the cruel philosophy of a 
predatory world Yvette Guilbert, living embodiment of 
the naturalist credo and rare artist who could enthral 
alike the sophisticated and the simple. 

Those were the days of the famous quadrille of the 
Moulin Rouge with Grille d'Egout, Nini Patte-en-?air 
and Miss Rigolette, those frantic Corybantes whose cart- 
wheels revealed frothing lace petticoats and voluminous 
frilled drawers to an excited audience. It was the day of 
the enormous hat and the big chignon, a period of exag- 
gerated and clamant femininity excited by those strange 
new dances from -which moralists predicted the ruin of 

But now they seem harmless enough. 



WHILE public manners and morals were being trans- 
formed by the advent of naturalism, Monsieur Grew, 
cosily wadded in his comfortable post, was trying to pur- 
sue his rosy dream of being the President without a history. 
Year by year he was finding it more difficult, for uncom- 
fortable things persisted in happening. 

First there was the Union G6nerale crash, which pro- 
duced a financial panic with unpleasant reverberations in 
the political world. 

This particular financial disaster, which anticipated the 
more sensational Panama affair by several years, coin- 
cided with the railway convention scandal, the jobbery 
in Tunis, and about half a dozen similar affairs. The 
Union Generale crash was the first of the large-scale 
financial disasters, and it came with an enormous shock 
to ^a public accustomed only to the cautious and cir- 
cumspect conduct of affairs by prudent men of tried 

M. Bontout, the head of the Union Generale, was an 
able financier but temperamentally reckless; moreover, 
most of his experience had been obtained in Austria, 
where hazardous speculation has always been rife. He was 
a man whose ideas were all on the grandiose scale, and he 
aspired to make the Union Gen6rale the biggest financial 
concern in the country, inflating his capital to an un- 
precedented extent. 

The stock soared to a tremendous height, but round 
about the beginning of January 1882 rumour began to 
sharpen into anxiety an anxiety sedulously fostered by 
the "bears". Not daring to halt the upward tendency, 
the Union G6nerale tried to call in the shares, and that 
proved to be the beginning of the end. From being 
quoted at 2,900 francs in the middle of January they 
dropped, first to 2,500, and then to 2,300, By January 
25th they were at 2,000; by February 1st at 1,200; on the 



2nd they dropped to 400, and on the 3rd to 100. It was 
a landslide down a slippery slope. 

The announcement of the Union Generale's insolvency, 
together with the arrest of Bontout and Feder, fell like the 
explosion of a brooding thunder-cloud. Through an army 
of brokers, notaries, and other agents the Company had 
planted their scrip in almost every part of France. Most 
of the holders were people of small means tradespeople, 
minor civil servants, artisans, and peasants. The Catholic 
community was especially hard-hit, and thousands of 
domestic servants and farm-labourers, following the 
example of their employers, who had implicit faith in 
Bontout, had invested their entire savings. It was a 
national disaster. 

"Queues of people waited all day long outside the 
offices" (wrote Figaro}. "The despair of these people 
who have lost everything is pitiable to contemplate. 
Numbers of priests were among them, and many 
women, weeping bitterly." 

The crash engendered a widespread discontent whose 
full extent was not immediately apparent. The working 
classes tended to blame the Government for this and the 
many following financial disasters of the next few years, 
and the whole country was in a rancorous mood, exas- 
perated by a series of international events not calculated 
to pour balm upon the national self-esteem. The attitude 
of England with regard to Egypt, the "cold douches" 
administered by Bismarck, the death of Commandant 
Riviere and the disaster of the Tonkin expedition all 
contrived to exacerbate a disgruntled public opinion. 

It may seem to us that this exasperation manifested 
itself in puerile and futile ways, but however negligible 
in themselves these manifestations may have been, they 
betrayed a deep-rooted disgust which the Government 
would have been well advised to take into account. 
Boulangism was fundamentally a protest against corrupt 
administration, political roguery, and a foreign policy 
which lowered French prestige. Deroulede's foundation 


of the League of Patriots on May i8th 1882 was an em- 
phatic challenge to the ruling power. 

But all this passed unperceived by Monsieur Grevy, 
voluntarily muffled in his cotton wool, through which 
only dull and garbled rumours made their way. He had 
not yet heard the rumblings of a riot which was due to 
break on his own house-top, provoked by the malpractices 
of his son-in-law Daniel Wilson, 

This Daniel Wilson is worth a sketch, for he is one of 
the most picturesque figures of the time. To us now he 
seems to bear the authentic hall-mark of the Second 
Empire, a survival of the great days of Tortoni determined 
to prolong, under his father-in-law's dull and unspec- 
tacular presidency, the life of the boulevards and the 

The amours and extravagancies of his youth had been 
proverbial. In an era of ostentation he had tried to excel 
them all. Once he gave a dinner where every lady in- 
vited and there were twelve of them found a 1,000- 
franc note (.40 then) in her place with the host's card, 
inscribed "Money to play with." The gesture was all 
the more magnificent since Wilson lost continuously that 
night while the ladies pocketed their money intact, 

On another occasion he lost 100,000 francs in one 
evening's play, a very considerable sum for those days. 

With his princely ways and reckless living it was con- 
fidently to be expected that Wilson would end up in 
beggary. But he underwent a complete transformation 
during the last years of the Second Empire and took up 
politics with all the neophyte's fervour. He got himself 
elected as deputy on an historic occasion when all his 
constituents flocked to Chenonceaux to eat and drink at 
his expense. After this gargantuan fte, Daniel Wilson 
made his bow among the representatives of the people, 
on the Left, by the side of Ernest Picard and Jules Ferry. 

His zeal did not stop there. Living in a maze of politi- 
cal combinations and intrigues, this survivor of an older 
regime began to extend his ramifications into the business 
world. He became one of the select group of politicians 
who more or less openly trafficked their votes and seized 


whatever opportunities of profit their position brought 
their way. When in due course he became Grev/s son- 
in-law this field of activity was enormously increased. 

After six glorious and profitable years came the Decora- 
tions scandal. It was discovered that a certain staff officer, 
General Caffarel, had trafficked in the Legion of Honour 
with the War Office through the agency of a woman named 

The house of this woman, a witch-like old creature of 
revolting appearance, was searched and a number of 
documents extremely compromising to Daniel Wilson 
were discovered: letters on the Elysee notepaper, blank 
commissions, and other undeniable evidence of a scandal 
of the first magnitude. 

Old Grevy heard the rumblings of the storm and 
vainly tried to dissociate himself from his son-in-law. 
But public opinion would have none of this. The bitter 
gibes of Rochefort poured vitriol upon the whole Ministry, 
pitilessly exposing the extent of the corruption. There 
was the architect Bachellery, who had built Wilson's 
house, the designer of Wilson's famous wrought-iron stair- 
case, the contractor who had supplied the electric bells 
and light fittings, all decorated with the red ribbon of the 
Legion by Wilson in lieu of payment* The thing became 
the topic of the music-halls, and street singers improvised 
ballads on the misfortunes of M. Grevy: 

Oh, how unlucky. Oh, how unlucky! 
Why did I ever have a son-in-law? 

"Ten centimes, monsieur. -The very latest song. Only 
ten centimes/' 

Despite the efforts of the President of the Chamber and 
the Minister of Justice, the Chamber ruled out Wilson's 
privilege of immunity and flung him and his f ather-in-law 
to the wolves. 

The distracted Grevy, hounded, imprecated, and in- 
volved up to the hilt despite his frantic denials, could not 
yet be brought to realize that his resignation was impera- 
tive. It took a mob, howling outside his windows day 
and night, to bring it home to him. At length he did 
resign, on December 2nd 1887. 


This was a critical point in the history of the Republic. 
Once again the mob had shown itself the determining 
factor. Crowds that would not disperse hung around 
the streets, snatching at newspapers, while, inside the 
Chamber, Boulangists and anti-Boulangists were hurling 
fiery speeches across the floor. 

When it was rumoured that Jules Ferry, variously 
known as "the man of Tonkin" 1 and "Bismarck's friend", 
had been nominated in succession to Grevy, public tension 
was at breaking point. The Municipal Council of Paris 
declared itself permanent, in view of the gravity of the 
situation, and people wondered if they were not 
approaching another Commune. 

Finally the fateful day dawned. Parliamentary in- 
trigues had been carried on unceasingly for fifty hours, 
with the result that an outsider won. 

It was Clemenceau who had clinched the matter. 

"Let us choose Carnot," he said. "He's the stupidest." 

And so honest Sadi Carnot became President of the 
French, with Boulangism raging triumphantly through 


. . 

If there was ever a preposterous interlude in the history 
of a nation it is this Boulangism, a gay and irresponsible 
entr'acte staged, as it were, between two depressing 
Parliamentary sessions. It was a gallant adventure 
"gallant" in both senses of the word. Two years saw the 
emergence of General Boulanger from obscurity into the 
full blaze of his country's adulation, and then back into 

It is no use looking at him except through the eyes of 
a woman. No other vision could ever descry the nature 
of his appeal and his popularity. The novelist Alberic 
Cahuet has realized this perfectly and has recaptured the 
essence of the Boulangist adventure better than any 
politicial historian. 

1 Jules Ferry incurred great hostility by his colonial expansion policy, which 
was also applauded by Bismarck on the grounds that France would wear out her 
energies in the desert and be powerless in Europe. The ill-fated and mis- 
managed Tonkin expedition was initiated by Ferry. 


"There was at this particular moment 53 (says he) "a 
sort of divorce, or rather a sentimental separation, 
between the French people and the Republican regime. 
It was that grey and weary hour when the bored 
imagination yearns for the stimulus of adventure, that 
insidious half-light when desire turns towards a concrete 
lover. And the lover appeared in a sudden flash of 
revelation, armed with that vigour, that will to power, 
and that imperious tenderness which subdue the simple 
and the subtle alike. After that famous review of the 
I4th of July, when he appeared as a possible Caesar to 
crush the corrupt and trembling dotards of the senate, 
Boulanger had gained a thousand hearts. . . . 

"At the beginning of 1889 there was not a factory 
girl who did not have a picture of the hero in her garret, 
and not a woman of society who did not yearn to entice 
into her salon this man about whom mystery hung like 
a voluptuous incense. To wear the red carnation was to 
feel aU the excitement of an amorous intrigue, to feel 
oneself set apart by the man who had stormed all hearts." 

Every one was affected similarly and at once, young and 
old, male and female together. 

But how did it all begin? Nobody knows exactly. It 
may have been with the reforms that the General desired 
to introduce in the Army, but they were nothing very 
much. Or, perhaps, that gesture of painting the sentry- 
boxes with the national tricolour? But that was still less. 
Or that frontier incident, the Schnaebel affair? Anyhow, 
even before becoming War Minister in 1887 he was there, 
the idol of the crowd, adulated and adored everywhere. 
His bearing, his handsome face, the legend that was already 
growing up round him marked out le brav* General as the 
chosen one to all those who were disgusted with the 
discreditable Grevy regime. 

No man- ever understood the art of pleasing better than 
Boulanger. With the humble and the great alike he was 
frank, pleasant, and unaffected. His handshake was firm 
and reassuring. Everybody who came in contact with him 
was charmed. 


He had also an invincible faith in his star, and he never 
hesitated to- proclaim it. "I have always succeeded and 
I always shall," he would say oracularly, and his listeners, 
under the influence, would assent. 

It is a solid fact that before his youthful bravura Left 
and Right alike were ready to bow. At the very beginning 
he could claim to unite in his support antagonists as for- 
midable as Clemenceau and Deroulede. Crowds gathered 
to cheer him whenever he went out; his portrait sold like 
wildfire, and the legend grew and grew. It was inevitably 
assisted by the cafe concerts, and most particularly by 
Paulus and his famous song. 

That song was just another instance of Boulanger J s 
luck. When Gamier and Delormal got the idea of the 
song and had arranged for Paulus to sing it they could 
get no further than the title, En revenant de la revue. 

They tried out three versions with three different 
heroes. The first was: 

Je venais acclamer 
Le brav' G6ne"ral Boulanger . , . 

and the second: 

Je venais acclamer 
Le brav' G6nral Negrier . . . 

and the third: 

Je venais admirer 
Le brav' Commandant Domini . . . 

"You choose," said they to Paulus. 

"I'll stick to Boulanger; he's the most popular," said the 
singer, and so the famous song was launched. In less than 
two months it was to carry the name of Boulanger in 
triumph over the leafy arbours of the Alcazar d'Et6 to the 
remotest corners of France* 

"Vive Boulanger!" cried the audience as they shouted 
the chorus. 

"Vive Boulanger!" The cry was carried along by the 
listeners outside under the chestnut trees. It was carried 
a long way off, growing as it travelled. 

In 1887 he became Minister of War* His luck was 
holding good. In a famous speech Bismarck unloosed his 





M o 3 

P 03 



a "5 

<i rt D 
iS J ft, 

w ^g 




thunders against the French general who typified the idea 
of a revanche and who was thought to be aiming at a 
military dictatorship. Two months later came the 
Schnaebel affair. 

The tocsin had sounded. A French officer caught in a 
trap by the Germans, molested, and imprisoned a grave 
frontier incident; what would come out of it? The whole 
of France turned its eyes, not on Goblet, the President 
of the Council, but on the Minister of War, who was felt 
to be the man of destiny. The handsome blond general 
held in his hands the keys of war and peace. 

"He will not give way," said the women proudly. 

The graveyards where your heroes lie, 
Quicken as they hear that cry, 

This is the kind of thing the cafe concerts rang with. 
And this: 

By our country's flowing blood, 

By our past and by our dead, 
Stand firm with the Tsar, for France, for God, 

Death to the Prussians, and long live Boulanger! 

However much the uneasy politicians would have liked 
to rid themselves of him they did not dare* In the end 
it was the Ministry itself that fell, and the Minister of 
War, once again a simple general, was sent to command an 
Army corps at Clermont Ferrand. Feverish excitement in 
Paris; crowds singing beneath the windows of the Hotel 
du Louvre where the hero lived, "He shall not go!" 
"He shall not go!" 

On a hot July day, however, he decided that he must 
go, and the whole town made up its mind to see him off. 
As he stepped into his carriage, cheers and Boulangist 
songs split the heavens; thousands of supporters of both 
sexes, all wearing the red carnation, set out for the Gare 
de Lyon to see him depart. 

What a day that was for Paris, and how typical of the 
whole affair! 

Since it could not get anywhere near the station, the 


General's carriage had to make a detour, but it was inter- 
cepted and seized by vigorous hands. "Shall he go?" 
"He shall not go." The station was besieged; the train 
was held up; the crowd had taken the matter in its hand 
and was determined to prevent the departure of its hero. 

"All the same I must go!" cried Boulanger, and he 
sprang on to the engine, which shrieked farewell and made 
off at full speed. 

And all the little shop-girls, the clerks, and the pastry- 
cooks linked arms and sang in chorus under the unromantic 
dirty glass roof of the Gare de Lyon: 

Don't be downhearted, 
He'll come back again. 

He did, indeed, come back, after innumerable adven- 
tures, escapes, disguises in blue spectacles .and all the 
apparatus of conspiracy in which he took a childish 

And he had a love-affair, of course. How could he 
have avoided it? He could have had any woman he 
wanted, but his heart was irrevocably given already. 

She was a Baronne de Bonnemain, n&e Laurence Rouzet. 
Her father was a naval officer, her sister married an 
artillery officer who subsequently got his command, and 
she herself had married into a military family. It was not, 
however, a successful marriage. She was flighty, and 
social success rapidly turned her head; he was of the same 
disposition and did nothing whatever to steer the matri- 
monial ship off the rocks. It inevitably foundered, and 
there were applications for divorce. 

The husband's lapses were admitted, even notorious, 
and the suit went against him. General Bonnemain him- 
self gave evidence in favour of his daughter-in-law. The 
husband disappeared from Parisian society and Madame 
de Bonnemain was free. 

For some time she was content to lead an impeccable 
life of middle-class respectability. Then her health obliged 
her to frequent watering-places, and soon she became 
drawn into the vivacious, flirtatious (the word had already 


come in) Efe which prevails in these resorts. But with all 
her expansiveness and gaiety she retained an inner core of 
melancholy, as though foreshadowing even then her tragic 

Since nothing in particular had been said about her, her 
relatives took her up again, and it was in the house of her 
brother-in-law, Rozat de Mande, that she first met General 

He had been in her mind for some time previously. 
When her sister, Madame Rozat de Mande, wrote to her 
in Cannes eulogizing the charm of the General and the 
high hopes which France reposed in him, Madame de 
Bonnemain replied eagerly: 

"Tell me all about die General. He interests me 

A little while later Madame Rozat de Mande was giving 
a small dinner-party for Boulanger, when her sister, who 
had only that very morning returned from Cannes to 
Paris, invited herself for the occasion. 

"It only means laying an extra place," she said. 

Madame de Mande, a little surprised at such eagerness 
and remembering her sister's enthusiasm about the 
General, was a little wary. 

"Well, don't dress too magnificently. It is only an 
informal little dinner among ourselves." 

We may be quite sure that this advice was disregarded 
and that Madame de Bonnemain gave the General ample 
opportunities to admire her beautiful shoulders. 

A few days later they met again, then the next day, and 
all the days following. A great mutual passion had 
sprung into life. 

There was no ulterior motive in her love, nothing but 
the deepest and most disinterested affection. She had no 
political ambition and insisted from the outset that they 
must preserve the utmost secrecy. It was in every way a 
wise move, for it invested her with that aura of mystery 
which her lover could never resist. She was to be the 
mistress whom he cherished in secret, the faithful com- 
panion remaining ever in the shadow. Between the 
sessions of the Chamber or in the intervals of party 


conferences he would glide round to the rue du Bern 
and sometimes stay through the night. 

None will ever know how many political opportunities 
he thus missed. During the Rouvier-Ferron Ministry 
"the German Ministry", as Rochefort called it 1 when the 
town was rife with rumour and wire-pullers ran hither and 
thither while crowds demonstrated in the streets, Rouvier 
and his friends would have been terrified had it not been 
for the arrival of a reassuring little note from the police. 
It said: 

"General Boulanger has j ust gone to Ha vre with a lady." 

On that 27th of January, when the whole of Paris was 
waiting for a signal from the man it had chosen, the hero 
of the hour had no thoughts but for his mistress. For 
her sake, too, he slipped away in ludicrous disguises from 
Clermont-Ferrand, and when he returned once more to 
civil life he was daily at her house. 

At this time Madame de Bonnemain had hopes of 
becoming his wife, for since Madame Boulanger, who was 
very devout, would not consent to a divorce, the General 
had applied to Rome for an annulment of his marriage. 
Even now, however, only a few select friends were in 
possession of the secret, and it was not until the duel with 
Floquet that Madame de Bonnemain came out into the 
open, accompanying the wounded man first to the Villa 
Dillon, and afterwards installing herself at his bedside in 
his house in the rue Dumont d'Urville. 

Boulanger no longer hesitated. The Roman Rota 
having declined to declare his marriage void, he applied 
for a civil divorce. But once again his hopes foundered. 
When he made the customary declaration before the 
judge: "Madame Boulanger declines to resume the con- 
jugal ^ state", his wife simply said: "Give me your arm, 
monsieur, and let us go back." 

Madame de Bonnemain suffered deeply from this 
reverse. From that time onwards her passion took a more 
sombre tinge. She regarded the Royalist party, who had 

1 Rouvier was the Premier who dismissed Boulanger and put Ferron in his 
place. He had been implicated in several scandals and was finally discredited 
hv the Panama revelations (see pp. 114 ft 


been making advances to tlie General recently, as mainly 
responsible for the fact that the divorce was not imple- 
mented, and she conceived an immense hatred for them 
and for all the other interests who battled round her idol. 
Even exile, with all its bitterness and regret, seemed to her 
preferable to the life they had to lead in Paris. One idea 
outgrew all others in her mind, to fly away as far as possible 
with him. 

But whatever might be the General's secret life in the 
shadows he did not deny himself the applause of the crowd 
by day. In a few months he had become one of the forces 
which France had to reckon with. What was he going 
to make of it? What party, what orientation, would he 
choose to further his ends? 

His female admirers made light of this question, what- 
ever their own political complexion. They loved him just 
as he was. But public opinion was coming round to 
realize the harsh truth that the General himself had no 
more precise ideas than his supporters. He said, and 
repeated, that it was necessary to revise the Constitution, 
to put an end to all the administrative scandals, to 
reorganize the parliamentary machine, to reconstruct the 
national order, and to keep its sword tempered. He went 
on saying all these things, but he did not go any further. 
He was content to wait on the tide of circumstance. 

It was an ironic spectacle, singular and perhaps even 
unique in our history, this abounding force of youth and 
confidence and the wary and circumspect men who walked 
round him, trying him out and waiting the moment to 
fall on him as a naturalist with his green net bides his time 
to pounce upon a dazzling butterfly, carelessly lingering for 
honey. First of all the Republicans had seen in him the 
devoted soldier who would serve their most urgent ends. 
Clemenceau was to the fore among these. "I will make 
him War Minister," he had said. 

He had done so. Boulanger became Clemenceau's man 
and was kuded by him to the sHes. But our General was 
far too hospitable to keep his doors closed to all but one 
party, and it did not take men long to find this out. 
Soon the rumour was all round Paris that Left and 


Right were equally welcome in the house in the rue St. 

There were preliminary roars from Clemenceau. And 
there was glacial fury from Rochefort;, who wrote a 
scathing article against Boulanger in Ulntransigeant* The 
Boulangists were in despair. Something would have to 
be done quickly. Laguerre was the man chosen to do it, 
together with that young, active, and very resolute Comte 
Dillon who was already making himself the Morny of 
the period. They were delegated to try to get round 
Rochefort, and they knew it would not be at all easy; for 
he was formidable, this nervous, furious, stubborn n^an 
with his pock-marked face, like another Mirabeau, and the 
huge domed brow like Victor Hugo's. His thin, satanic 
beard, the celebrated elf-lock, and the rapier blue eyes 
expressed a personality essentially autocratic despite the 
democracy he had so signally professed. He loved to play 
with men and ideas like a showman working the strings 
of his puppets, and nobody doubted that, should they 
displease him, he was perfectly capable of smashing them 
all. At this period, luckily for the negotiators, he was too 
disgusted with parliamentarianism to do anything else but 
rally round Boulanger, and Laguerre was thus able to 
make things right with him. A reconciliation lunch was 
arranged; it went off admirably, and from that time on 
Rochefort was an undeviating partisan of the General. 

The fall of Goblet's Cabinet was very serious for the 
Radicals. Clemenceau lost his beautiful soldier, and made 
desperate efforts to retain him, aided, of course, by the 
Parisian crowd, who demonstrated in the streets crying 
"We want Boulanger!" 

When Clemenceau heard that General Perron was to 
succeed his nominee as War Minister he made overtures 
to him in order to induce him to refuse the portfolio. 
But Perron preferred a Ministry in hand to whatever 
Clemenceau might have in the bush, and he took office. 
Clemenceau was naturally more furious than ever. When 
the new Minister, meeting him in the Chamber, ap- 
proached him with outstretched hand, the director of 
justice put his own in his pocket. 


"I don't know you," lie said. 

That was Clemenceau's way of looking after his crea- 
tures. But if he was a partisan he was not afraid to 
change sides. Three months later Madame de Bonne- 
main's lover had fallen from his esteem; six months later 
he was his mortal enemy. 

Boulanger's Republican days were over. When he left 
Paris to resume his military command he was to be thrown 
into another camp. 

The new orientation was the Bonaparte Revisionist 
party, and the man of the moment there was Georges 
Thiebaud. This was a young provincial journalist of 
parts who had arrived in Paris from Mezieres with the 
idea of substituting for the Bonapartist party pure and 
simple a party from which the hereditary principle should 
be excluded. France, said he, needed not so much a 
monarchy as a strong authority centred in the head of the 
State, and only the principle of free election could give 
any man such supreme authority. And who was so likely 
to be elected by universal suffrage, in the year 1886-7, as 
the man with whom the whole nation had fallen in love? 
Georges Thiebaud got in touch with Boulanger and 
unfolded his ideas. The General, as usual, neither agreed 
nor disagreed, but he seemed to be very much interested. 
At the bottom of his heart his chief concern was how he 
could manage to get to Royat to see Madame de Bonne- 
main more frequently, but it was difficult to refuse this 
enthusiastic young journalist, who wished to accompany 
him to see Prince Jerome at Prangins. The fact that he 
consented to meet one of the claimants to power seemed 
to argue that he had no desire for any other role but that 
of General Monk, But who can tell what he thought? 

The more it is considered, however, the more incredibly 
foolish does this adventure seem. He was a general on 
the active list, and he was going to leave his command 
secretly, without permission, and in disguise, to confer in 
a foreign town with the head of a deposed dynasty. But 
it was not undertaken in any light or frivolous spirit; this 
secret imbroglio was just the kind of thing to exercise an 
irresistible attraction for his romantic soul. 


So they set out, followed by the police, of course. But 
they managed to give the latter the slip at Lyons, and 
Boulanger, passing over the frontier as "Commandant 
Solar", burst in on the astonished Prince Jerome, who 
for fully fifteen minutes refused to be convinced of his 
visitor's identity, so incredible it seemed to him that such 
a man should take part in such an adventure. 

The situation, however, was explained. They exchanged 
ideas on politics, domestic and foreign, and found that 
they held similar views on almost everything. They had 
no quarrel with the Republic, which was to remain the 
official regime, but with a new Constitution. For the 
rest, the Prince said that he had no intention of offering 
himself as a candidate. Boulanger said that neither had 
he. They seem to have played the game perfectly. 

They got up and went into a room where the historic 
relics of the Bonapartes were displayed in a glass case. 

The Prince showed several of them to his guest, and 
then, indicating an Egyptian sabre which was inscribed 
"The Sword used by the First Consul at Marengo", he 

"Isn't that a precious souvenir?" 

The General professed great astonishment. 

"Are you sure that it is really the actual sword?" 

The Prince laughed. "Do I look like a collector of 
bogus antiques?" 

"Then it is indeed a precious souvenir," responded the 
General in a tone of admiration and respect. 

The Prince Napoleon touched him on the shoulder. 

"Yes, General, that is the First Consul's sword. And 
when you have won back Alsace-Lorraine for France I 
will give it to you!" 

They parted in mutual appreciation, and Boulanger went 
back to Clermont with the same imprudent simplicity, 

But if these men imagined they had succeeded in 
catching the elusive hero, they were gravely deceived. It 
was they in fact who had been captured by him: so much 
so that when they heard that the Royalists were taking a 
hand in the butterfly snaring game they were quite ready 
to compete for him. 


They had no money to offer him, but they could give 
their loyalty. And they remained in fact his most 
faithful bodyguard to the end. 

After his flirtations with the Republicans and the 
Revisionists, Boulanger found himself approached by the 
Royalists, correct, formal men with grandiloquent man- 
ners and slightly mysterious airs. Their chief representa- 
tive, Monsieur de Martimprey, deputy for a northern 
department, had been formerly a Bonapartist but had 
rallied to the Royalist camp after the death of the Prince 
Imperial. It was just after Grevy^s resignation, when the 
whole country was agitated by the rumour that Jules 
Ferry was being nominated to the presidency, and despite 
his predisposition against the idol of the mob, M. de 
Martimprey thought that the time had come when an 
understanding with the General was imperative. So a 
secret interview was arranged, with de Martimprey and 
his colleagues Le Herisse and de Mackau, at the former's 
house in the rue de Monceau. 

"The house has two exits," said M. de Martimprey. 

That was quite enough to draw Boulanger. On a dark 
night in November 1887 they forgathered secretly, 
shrouded in long, dark cloaks, invisible against the dusky 
walls. De Martimprey and the Baron de Mackau waxed 
eloquent, appealing to the patriotism of the General and 
showing him a letter from the Comte de Paris approving 
in advance anything his faithful lieutenants might see fit 
to do. It was necessary, they said, to bar out Jules Ferry, 
and they and Boulanger must form a Ministry. The 
General could then make way for the monarchy. Once 
more, it was the role of Monk that was offered to him. 
Of course he said neither yea nor nay, beyond promising 
to intervene at once against Ferry/ 

Their plans were discomfited by the fact that Ferry was 
not nominated at all. Sadi Carnot, as we know, became 
President, and no portfolio was offered to Boulanger. 
Nevertheless, de Martimprey and de Mackau considered 
that they had accomplished their first step. 

So well had the secret been kept that the Royalist Press 
had no inkling of it and continued to cover the name of 


Boulanger with mud. "Rochefort's friend" and "Clemen- 
ceau's creature" were some of the epithets bestowed on 
him, while in private Gallifret raged against "the Saint- 
Arnaud of the cafe concerts". 

"Naturally I loathe him," said he. "He is everything 
that I should like to be." 

But another personage was to come upon the scene, 
to enable the Royalist party openly to proclaim its new 
recruit. This was Arthur Meyer, 

With his tall hat stuck on his head, his pepper-and-salt 
coloured whiskers, his face pale as wax with black eyes 
that stared blankly through you, he had imposed himself 
upon everybody* His ideas were rather circumscribed. 
He wanted to put Philippe VII on the throne regardless 
of the etiquette of preparation, whether as King, Emperor, 
or President of the Republic. For him the reality counted 
for more than the form, and as he watched the growing 
popularity of Boulanger he too had made the invariable 
decision: "There's our man." 

As an intimate friend both of the Duchesse d'Uzes and 
Comte Dillon he was very well placed to carry out such 
an undertaking, but he was determined to insinuate him- 
self in the centre of things as well. He had the supreme 
ability of discretion; he knew how to live in apparent 
obscurity, to avoid compromising situations, and to appear 
in no other role but that of the assiduous go-between of the 
Comte de Paris and the Boulangist party. He played his 
part so well that when he chose to liquidate the business, 
his "Good night" was the epitaph of the adventure. 

It was throughout an extraordinary affair. 

"The General was only a card to the Royalist party. 
And the Royalist party meant nothing but funds to the 
General, Both sides held something in reserve all the 
time. The General needed the Royalists, for without 
their money he had no resources, but he heartily wished 
to be rid of them. They needed him, but were at the 
same time afraid. The sword which they proposed to 
unsheathe against the Republic might very well be 
turned against themselves. 

From a photograph in the Rischgitx Collection 


"The Comte de Paris and his friends had been very 
skilful in cornering the General, and in subordinating 
to their interest the man who had gained his first popu- 
larity by expelling the royal princes from the Army. 
But General Boulanger had been even more skilful, for 
they got nothing out of him but promises and aspira- 
tions. He might receive money or service from others, 
but the only currency in which he ever paid was that of 
illusion. So the affair petered out in deception all round." 

The Royalists did, in fact, bring Boulanger something 
that neither the Republicans nor the Bonapartists had 
offered. They, or rather the Duchesse d'Uzes, for it 
was she who almost alone supplied it, had a war-chest. 

In the beginning she had only been asked for small 
subsidies, election expenses here and there. But once put 
a finger on the steering-wheel and the whole hand is 
drawn on, and the Duchess abandoned herself joyously. 
Boulanger had no more fervent admirer. 

They had first met when he was War Minister, and 
they had had a long talk together on the "decadence 
of France" and the necessity of devising a new form of 

"Why can't we do it together?" she had said laughing, 
and he had not said "No." 

So when Comte Dillon and Arthur Meyer came to ask 
her for further financial help she unhesitatingly put three 
millions at their disposal. The money was given abso- 
lutely, spontaneously and without any reserves as a 
declaration of faith in the General. 

"I answer for him," she said, "as I would for myself. 
To doubt him would be to doubt myself." 

And thus she remained till the end, a gallant friend and 
a loyal ally. 

To introduce "her" General to the aristocratic rem- 
nant she arranged a magnificent dinner-party, whose 
twenty-four guests included the Comte d'Harcourt, the 
Due de la Rochefoucauld, the Marquis de Breteuil, and 
other bearers of honoured and distinguished names. With, 
of course, Comte Dillon and Arthur Meyer. 



The Duchesse d'Uzes wore the red carnation. And on 
her menus were inscribed, not the names of the dishes 
but the titles of the fanfares with which each course was 

The dinner was followed by a reception at nine o'clock, 
at which the whole of Royalist society and sympathizers 
forgathered. Then followed for Boulanger a period of 
feasting and adulation such as man can seldom have ex- 
perienced before. He lived in a whirl of beautiful and 
adoring women all wearing red carnations. His social 
triumph was complete. 

With Arthur Meyer and his war-chest working full- 
time, his general popularity was not less so. No single 
factor which might glorify or expand the Boulangist 
legend was neglected. Thousands of photographs of the 
General were published and sold at the extremely low 
price of three centimes. Over three millions of these are 
said to have been distributed in one year. 

The songs were free publicity, but they brought in 
plenty of money for their authors. Paulus is said to have 
made over fifty thousand francs with En r'venant de la 
revue. Some of these songs have already been quoted 
here, and there is an anonymous little book, entitled 
Coulisses du Boulangisme in which the curious may find 
further specimens. Handkerchiefs, ties, scarves, chpco- 
late boxes, pipes, vases, plates, and every conceivable 
object which could be decorated either with the General's 
portrait or the red carnation were sold by the thousand, 
not only in Paris but in every provincial city. All this was 
the work of a supremely thorough and efficient propaganda 
machine, well oiled with funds. 

Wherever there was to be an election, crowds of Boulan- 
gist supporters were dispatched in advance. They awaited 
their candidate's arrival at the station, received him with 
a burst of cheers, attended all his meetings, applauded 
his every word, and in short, did every conceivable 
thing to engender that curious manifestation known as 
"spontaneous enthusiasm". 

But beneath all this hysterical and not always dis- 
interested activity, and among this horde of subsidized 


supporters, it is only fair to add that there were many 
people who would sincerely have given anything for the 
cause. The great reservoir of these was Deroulede's 
League of Patriots, who, following the example of their 
chief, reverenced Boulanger first as the brave soldier who 
had stood up to Germany at the time of the Schnaebel 
affair, and secondly, as the man whom they could trust 
to deliver Alsace-Lorraine and to purge corruption from 
internal politics. Faith, ardour, generosity, and the 
capacity for self-sacrifice were possessed by these men to 
an unlimited degree, and they were all at Boulanger's 
service. But the General mistrusted the use of force 
and Deroulede was persuaded that without it they could 
accomplish nothing. Arguments and discussions deep- 
ened into quarrels and estrangements. Deroulede was 
all ardour and combativeness; Boulanger was all compro- 
mise. Nothing could be made of his hesitations, his 
indecisions, his total lack of will to action. An immense 
weariness and disillusion were all that this hero of a day 
left behind him. 

The end of the story is well known to all: how this 
hero of popular romance followed out his novelettish 
tendency to the end and died on his mistress's tomb. 
What motive more calculated to stir the hearts of the 
sentimental million, to provide a theme for the songs 
they sang, on yearning summer nights, in the shadow of 
the chestnut trees? 

On that celebrated Sunday night in January, soft and 
close as a night in spring, the mob of Paris, quivering with 
excitement, gathered around beneath the windows of the 
restaurant where the General was known to be dining. 
From the moment when he had refused to march on the 
Elysee his fall had been assured. The gallant adventure 
was over, and Paris had come to see the last of it. Some- 
where on the outskirts of the crowd hovered M. Clement 
with a warrant for the General's arrest in his pocket, but 
nobody would have assisted him to execute it. Almost 
the whole of the police force was Boulangist, as also was 
the Republican Guard. Probably at least half of the 
entire garrison of Paris supported the General. 


That was a tense minute, fraught with immense possi- 
bilities for a Stendhalian man of action. But Boulanger 
was not a man of action. When his thoughts should have 
been on the Faubourg St. Honore they were occupied 
only with the image of the beloved. He refused to set 
out upon a mere political adventure; he had already 
embarked for Cytherea. 

Laguerre, watching the minutes tick away on his watch, 
put it in his pocket and said to the assembly: 

"Gentlemen, from this moment Boulangism is no 

As quickly as he had risen into popularity, so now the 
General slid down the steep incline. The Government, 
being perfectly well aware of this, did not attempt to 
prevent his second and final "flight" on April 1st, but 
permitted him to cross the frontier with Madame de 
Bonnemain and settle down in Brussels, where all his 
comings and goings were reported to them. The woman 
had finally triumphed over the politicians. 

Vainly the latter entreated the General to return. He 
was deaf to all but one voice now, and that voice was 
failing. Madame de Bonnemain's health had been grow- 
ing rapidly worse, and soon afterwards she died and was 
buried in a cemetery at Brussels. A few days later, on 
September 3Oth, 1891, Boulanger returned to her grave 
and killed himself there. 

Visitors to the cemetery will notice perhaps a headstone 
inscribed simply "Marguerite and Georges." They are 
the final words of a great love-story. 



THE year 1889 was a year of excitement. Events tumbled 
over each other in every department of national activity, 
as though, after ten years of apprenticeship to the tempo 
of modern life, the nation had at kst reached its full stride. 
As a matter of fact it was only the preliminary quickening 
of the new rhythm, but it was remarkable because for the 
first time men could feel beneath their feet the pulsing 
of the accelerator. 

The Universal Exhibition itself, the magnet which drew 
such unparalleled crowds to the city seemed to exhale an 
intoxicating vapour which bewitched everything around 
it. Men were dizzy with excitement; they saw everything 
at least twice as large as life. Unhappily nobody foresaw 
the influenza epidemic which, making its appearance for 
the first time on a national scale, carried off thousands to 
the grave at the end of the year. 

The political arena seethed with agitation and con- 
spiracy. The Boulangist wave was rising to its crescendo, 
to die down a few months later in agonized spasms which 
convulsed the political world. Party and personal differ- 
ences became more and more embittered, and duels of 
increasing frequency. There were the celebrated meet- 
ings of Rochefort and Lissagaray, Raynal and Chiche, 
Sigismond Lacroix and Georges Laguerre, and scores of 
others. The High Court declared against the Boulangist 
Movement, and the League of Patriots was declared 
illegal and proscribed. All this ia an atmosphere of 
constant excitement, mass meetings and demonstrations 
in the streets. 

Among the new buildings and monuments completed 
were the new Sorbonne, the Gare Saint Lazare, jthe 
Monument of the Republic in the Place de la Nation, 
the statues of Etienne Dolet and Camille Desmoulins, 
the Bourse and the Musee Guimet. Lamp standards 
with electric lamps were installed on the boulevards, 



and the children's playground was opened in the Bois de 

The year was not even without its augmented quota of 
illustrious dead. There was the chemist Chevreul, Barbey 
d'Aurevilly, and Villiers de PIsle Adam among writers, 
the painter Dupre, and, most discussed of all, the handsome 
Jacques Damala, the husband of Sarah Bernhardt. 

Since Paris always has to have an Aunt Sally, the 
caricaturists and the comedians turned their attention to 
President Carnot, whose harsh wooden features have been 
transfixed for posterity by Caran d'Ache. The crazes of 
the moment were Forain's drawings in the Vie Parisienne, 
de Maupassant's novels, Paul Bourget's Mensonges, and 
Mademoiselle Jauffre, the first novel of a new writer 
named Marcel Prevost. 

The "professional beauties" of the day were Laure de 
Chiffreville and Fanny Robert, Emilienne d'Alenfon, 
Polaire, and Liane de Pougy were already being talked 

The principal topic of discussion in society was the 
Prince de Sagan, whose extravagancies were still dazzling 
Paris. The prodigality with which he squandered his 
wife's millions, the purple and gold livery of his servants, 
the complete service of one hundred pieces of the finest 
silverware in Paris, his vast and extravagant stables, his 
racing stud, his carriages and outriders all recalled the 
sumptuous days of the Tuileries and Saint Cloud rather 
than the cheeseparing regime of M. Gr6vy. 

He was the acknowledged arbiter of Parisian elegance, 
with his impeccable tail coat, sumptuous tie, and faultless 
white gloves and waistcoat, while his monocle with its 
wide moirt ribbon has passed into legend. Around him 
rallied all the growing numbers of the j# de sitcles and 
the pttits crevh, the contemporary bright young people. 
No social event was complete without his presence, from 
the Exhibition itself to a first night, an Opera Ball, 
"varnishing day" at the salon, a lunch at Marguer/s or a 
race-meeting at Longchamps, He must preside over it, 
or at least deign to be present at it, for any occasion to 
obtain the final hall-mark of success. He was more than 


a man; lie was already a legend: he was as ubiquitous, as 
Boni de Castellane said maliciously, as the compere of a 

At the Comedie Franfaise, the elder Coquelin created 
a scandal by resigning after twenty-seven years, despite 
the entreaties of his colleagues. After seven months, 
however, he thought better of it, and his reappearance 
was, of course, a public occasion. 

A skating rink in the old Plaza de Toros in the Rue 
Pergolese was a new public amusement. So also were 
Buffalo Bill and his cowboys, who were gathering all 
Paris to recapture the thrill of their youthful dreams 
of Gustave Aimard and Fenimore Cooper. The wide- 
brimmed cowboy hat was all the rage. 

The Opera, however, profited most from the crowds 
of provincials and others which the Exhibition drew to 
the capital. The latest success was the ballet of Copptlia, 
which had broken all previous records. In the foyer might 
be seen the Prince de Sagan, of course, the Marquis de 
Breteuil, and all the others who "cultivated" the dancers 
of the Opera, who then held a unique position on the 
margins of smart society. The favourites of the hour 
were Marie Santaville, a clever mimic, the dusky versatile 
Invernizzi, Mademoiselle Piron, like the huntress Diana, 
Julia Subra of the downcast eyes and fabulous lashes, the 
malicious Rosita Mauri . . . and all the others. 

They had the world at their feet in 1889. The great 
actresses of the legitimate stage had not yet seen fit to 
enter the Paphian preserves, and the mere professional 
Cyprians could not compare with them. The dancers of 
the Opera reigned over the imagination of men of all 
ages and all kinds, their images pirouetting in the dreams 
of the provincials who came from all over France to see 
and to appkud. 

Heaven knows they were simple enough in their tastes, 
these uncrowned queens of Paris. Rita Sangalli had a 
little house near the Trocadero, her drawing-room full 
of red and gold furniture, the whole presided over by 
a majestic portrait of her mother. There were albums, 
embroidery frames, and all the usual accessories of genteel 


femininity. Sangalli herself ran the household, kept the 
accounts rigidly and saw that everybody around her was 
kept hard at work. 

She was extremely proud of being a dancer, a profession 
which she considered entitled to the greatest respect. 
When a certain journalist, a little prematurely perhaps, 
referred to her with that intimacy of address generally 
reserved for an older profession, the lady was very indig- 
nant. She finished up by a most respectable marriage. 

Rosita Mauri had a flat in the rue de Provence, where 
she preserved all the favours, faded bouquets, and other 
souvenirs which a generous public had bestowed on her. 
Blanche Righetti had a pretty little country house at 
Vesinet, but even her ideas of luxury did not soar above 
an upholstered seat for her mother in the parish church. 

But it did not matter, then. Nothing could detract 
from their glamour, in 1889. 

If the Exhibition of 1878 had marked the financial 
recovery of France, that of 1889 marked her growth and 
expansion in other fields. But the latter had something 
beyond its mere size and prodigality to mark it out from 
its predecessors, something which was borne in upon the 
least observant or far-seeing. The Exhibition of 1889 
marked the establishment of science as predominant 
among human activities. 

The colossal hall, whose dimensions almost frightened 
the visitors, was a triumphal proclamation of the opening 
reign of the architecture of steel. A soaring steel tower, 
said to be the highest in the world, rose on the banks of 
the Seine. An agglomeration of new and ingenious 
machinery such as the mind of man had never hitherto 
thought of, was massed together almost insolently to 
overawe the wondering crowds. 

The remarkable thing was that these manifestations 
of a new aesthetic and a new technique were mature 
achievements and not tentative experiments. Whatever 
dream had moved their originators it had been completely 
realized in the Engineering Gallery and the Eiffel Tower. 



They marked a revolution in industry, a revolution effected 
suddenly and without precursors, consolidating itself 
irremovably despite protests and criticism. 

The Eiffel Tower was the subject of a rain of these from 
the moment it raised its head above the ground. Artists, 
amateurs of taste and that portion of the general public 
not susceptible to the hypnotism of mere dimensions, were 
affronted by this unparalleled architectural innovation. 

On February I4th 1887 Le Temps published the follow- 
ing, addressed to the Director of the Exhibition: 

"The undersigned citizens, being artists, painters, 
sculptors, architects, and others devoted to and desirous 
of preserving the amenities of Paris, wish to protest, in 
the name of our national good taste, against such an 
erection in the very heart of our city, as the monstrous 
and useless Eiffel Tower, already christened by the 
malicious common sense and unperverted good taste of 
our people generally, 'The Tower of Babel'. . . . 

"How much longer is the City of Paris to be a play- 
ground for these barbarous and sordid imaginations, 
which disfigure and dishonour her? For the Eiffel 
Tower, which even commercially minded America 
rejected, is a public dishonour to our city. All our 
historic buildings, our monuments of rare and appealing 
beauty, are dwarfed and humiliated by this monstrous 
apotheosis of the factory chimney whose odious shadow 
will lie over our city like a gigantic and shameful stain. 

"To you, sir, who have contributed so much to the 
beauty of the city we all love, should belong the honour 
of defending it once more. ..." 

The signatories included Meissonier, Gounod, Sardou, 
Ger6me, Bonnat, Bouguereau, Alexandre Dumas, Fran- 
?ois Coppee, Leconte de Lisle, Sully Prud'homme and 
Guy de Maupassant. 

This protest is reprinted here because it expressed per- 
fectly the general feeling of most cultured Frenchmen at 
the time. It serves also as a testimonial to the tenacity of 
Eiffel and his collaborators in pushing on with their work 


in the teeth of so much opposition. And it demonstrates, 
not for the first or last time, the difficulty which even great 
artists experience in judging an attempt outside the range 
of their own aesthetic conventions. 

In spite of the newspaper campaign and the pressure 
brought to bear upon the public authorities, the work went 
on. Edward Lockroy, the Minister of Commerce, be- 
sought M. Alphand not to reply to the protest but to 
preserve it, for, said he: "Such an eloquent example of 
French prose, ornamented by so many distinguished names, 
ought to be shown in a glass case at the Exhibition 
itself. It could not fail to attract the crowd. Some of 
them might even read it." 

By the end of March 1888 the Eiffel Tower was com- 
pleted. The occasion was celebrated in a fte to the 
workpeople, held in the Champ de Mars. 

"At 2,35" (writes the Petit Parisian) "M. Eiffel, who 
was visibly very much affected, drew the cord which 
unveiled the monument, finished at last. Immediately 
there burst out a salvo of twenty-one salutes which 
were loudly appkuded by the crowd below. On the 
lowest stage were installed tables where the three 
hundred-odd workmen, still in their working clothes, 
drank champagne in celebration of the fruition of their 

The Eiffel Tower was the keystone of the Exhibition. 
The universal publicity which it received surprised even 
the organizers. It was the newest wonder of the world, 
and the world flocked to see it. Its far-flung shadow 
made patterns in the gardens planted about its feet, and 
its ingenious intricacies and curious grace ended by fas- 
cinating the most prejudiced. People began to grow 
aware that they were in the presence of a new aesthetic 

The great mass of the visitors, however, thought only 
about one thing getting up to the summit. Crowds 
tramped up the stairs and besieged the lifts. On the first 
stage were show-cases which various enterprising firms 
had installed for the display of their merchandise, and 


also a cafe and a restaurant. On the second stage Figaro 
had installed a printing plant, and visitors could sign 
their names, with appropriate sentiments, in the special 
"Golden Book of the Tower". 

It may be imagined that this "Golden Book" contained 
a choice collection of inanities. Here are a few of them: 

"When I look at the Eiffel Tower, I am proud of 
being a Frenchman." L. Dutt, Saint Galmier. 

"I have made a solemn vow that my first grand- 
daughter shall be called EifieKne." G. Gregory, 

"Where will French genius soar to in 1989?" 
Pereida de Monterro, Brazil. 

Elzear Rugier of Marseilles burst into verse: 

But the true Marseilkis as lie looks down in awe, 
At the dazzling splendour beneath him unrolled, 
Regrets that he can't see his Cannebiere! 

Edmond de Goncourt, who detested the Eiffel Tower 
("can any one imagine anything more outrageous to the 
eye of an old man of taste"), nevertheless condescended to 
go up it, to dine on a beautiful July evening with Char- 
pentier, Hermant, Zola, and Dayot. 

"The lift in motion feels something like a ship getting 
under way, but fortunately it doesn't make you sea- 
sick. From the top you can see, farther than you could 
ever have thought, the extent, the magnificence, the 
Babylonian immensity of Paris. Under the setting sun 
the angles of the masonry catch up colour, and the 
sweeping lines of the horizon closing down upon the 
slope of Montmartre make the town look, as the light 
slowly fades, like a vast illuminated ruin. 

"We were rather thoughtful at dinner. . . . Then 
came the descent, which we made on foot, our heads 
seeming far away in the upper air, and our feet plunging 
into illimitable space with each step. Like ants creep- 
ing along the ropes of a gigantic ship, but the ropes are 
of iron." 1 

1 Edmond de Goncourt: Journal 


After the dinner on the Tower they visited the attrac- 
tions of the Exhibition. The most popular of these was 
the reproduction of a street in Cairo in its true Oriental 

"All the lascivious curiosity of Paris" (said de Gon- 
court) "converges there at night to watch the huge 
Africans with their naive obscene gestures, the swarming 
population like cats parading on the tiles. . . . With 
its acrid smell and stinging heat the rue de Cairo might 
very well be called the rue de Rut." 

Strings of little white donkeys, so young and small that 
they seemed to have just escaped from the manger, 
jostled the passers by, whose ears were continuously 
assaulted by the sharp wails of the flutes and the thud of 
the cymbals from the groups of native musicians squatting 
on the ground, There was real Turkish coffee to be had, 
served by Arabs, and there were innumerable touts 
issuing invitations to see a danse du venire. 

"But beauty is far removed from all this" (writes 
Gustave Guichet) . "To find it you must go to the little 
theatre where strange music announces that the 
Javanese dancers are about to perform. 

"One by one they come out of the canopied temple- 
tent, ckd in straight tunics and crowned with towering 
head-dresses of gold. They are the colour of saffron, 
and exhale odours of spice; their long, veiled eyes slant 
upwards; their bodies are almost emaciated and their 
breasts are meagre and frail. With their arms and 
ankles weighted down with bracelets they defile in 
procession before you with the solemn modesty of 
adolescent priestesses vowed to the mysterious and 
voluptuous divinity of their art. 

"They go back to the Temple. Then suddenly, to 
the music of those wood and string instruments which 
sound like the wind whistling through keyholes, the 
bubbling of cauldrons, and the gurgling of water into 
bowls, they come out and dance. 

"It is a frieze of youthful bodies offered in prayer. 


They approach each other with stiff, hieratic movements, 
their arms taut from their bodies, the hands flat from 
the wrists. Their eyes stare blankly ahead as their files 
approach and mingle. All their gestures signify their 
utter obeisance before their Divinity. 

"The dance changes. It grows faster and wilder, a 
witch's sabbath in a strange forgotten land. The gold 
of their head-dresses rattles and the chains fly out 
and glitter like marsh lights over a bewitched morass. 
Their bodies are tense and quivering as they leap and 
circle in the air. . . ." x 

The Javanese dancers set a fashion for exotic dances 
which ksted the Paris music-halls for about twenty years. 
A few dyspeptic veterans urged a return to "our national 
dances, set aside" (as one of them wrote to the Petit 
Journal) "for these contortions which have nothing even 
human in them". Edmond de Goncourt also, who seems 
to have been in a jaundiced mood that year, protests 
against these gross dances executed by "females with skins 
like coarse flannel, shining loathsomely with grease like 
rats fed on eels from the sewers". 2 

Other attractions were the czigane orchestras, with 
their crimson waistcoats, glittering eyes, and black hair, 
their despairing looks and nimble fingers. They discoursed 
valses and czardas to an animated audience of pretty women 
with tight-laced waists. That summer it was fashion- 
able to wear printed floral fabrics, and some of the more 
dashing had begun to puff out their shoulders into 
what were afterwards going to be known as "leg of mutton 
sleeves". They gave themselves up whole-heartedly to 
this seductive music, in which their ardent imaginations 
could hear the gallop of horsemen, the cries of their 
beasts, and the death moans of their strangled mistresses. 
It was an appetite which was to be glutted in the years 
to come. From 1889 the czigane orchestras reigned 
supreme in Paris restaurants and cabarets down to 1914 
when they were ousted by negro jazz-bands. 

It had undeniable charm,, that Exhibition of 1889. It 

1 Gustave Guiches: Le Banquet. * Edmond de Goncourt: Journal. 


had not yet grown to such immoderate dimensions as 
later on, in 1900; one could still, despite the crowds, find 
oneself alone under the beautiful night sky across which 
the illuminations of twenty "palaces" streamed like a 
flowing river of light. 

From six o'clock onwards the immense crowds assem- 
bled in the Champ de Mars to wait for the illuminated 
fountains, which did not begin to flow until eleven. These 
formed an attraction which has not palled even now, and 
then they were a fascinating scientific novelty, enchanting 
the crowd and the cognoscenti alike. 

When night had completely fallen over the scene, 
luminous jets would start out suddenly from the base of 
the Eiffel Tower. Azure, gold, scarlet and emerald all 
the hues of the prism seemed to battle to defeat the 
blackness which surrounded them. Gradually their 
colours would lessen in intensity: purple changed into 
delicate mauve, the glittering gold grew paler, the 
emerald softened to a lighter green. Colours were born 
and died, blurred and drifted into clouds, faded, and then 
shot out again in their pristine brilliance. Yes, those were 
nights to dream of. 

The dream would have been more enduring, however, 
had it not been spoilt by the appalling epidemic which 
burst over Paris when the Exhibition ended, like a time- 
fuse bomb which it had left behind. 

At first it had seemed quite a well-behaved epidemic. 
Dr. Brouardel, deputed to investigate it by the public 
authority, reported that the disorder was trifling and that 
a few days at home by the fire was all the treatment it 

This was complacently published in the newspapers and 
became a standing joke. "Have you got it?" "Not yet?" 
"Well, you will, because we've all got to have it." 

In the cabarets they were singing: 

Everybody's got the influe-en-za-ah! 

But they soon began to find out that it was not a joke. 
The death-roll began to mount alarmingly and the people 
got into a state of panic. It was useless for the Press to 


publish reassuring statements; their own obituary columns 
gave them the lie. Public services became disorganized, 
theatres closed, fStes were put off, and law sittings sus- 
pended. Under this cloud of panic and depression the 
year 1889 passed out. And the winter following was not 
calculated to reassure anybody. 



THE Panama affair cannot be neglected in an account of 
French social life under the Third Republic for all that 
it was a trifle compared with such an event as the Dreyfus 
case, which convulsed the country from end to end and 
had almost incalculable repercussions. 

Nevertheless the Panama affair was something more 
than a mere financial crash. It not only ruined thousands 
of poor investors, which in itself always has a disquieting 
effect upon social conditions; it unveiled a state of affairs 
in the political world which could not fail to arouse 
utmost public concern, and to give a head to a great deal 
of gathering discontent. 

Seen from the vantage-point of distance to-day, it 
seems a sordid and commonplace scandal enough. We 
may even be inclined to wonder why the Baron de 
Reinach should have killed himself for so little. They 
order these things better now. 

But it must not be f orgetten that the close connection 
between finance and politics which the affair revealed 
came as a great shock then to an unsuspecting public, and 
the machinations and intrigues of both parties, suddenly 
disclosed in all their shabbiness and sinuosity, were a 
brutal proclamation that the old line of demarcation 
credited and cherished, at least in theory, for generations, 
did not in fact exist at all. The plain man had clung to 
this ideal distinction, and the sudden revelation that the 
nation's elected could not be dissociated from the sordid 
traffickings of finance filled him with indignation, panic, 
and disgust. 

We have already stressed the fact that one of the 
characteristics of the new society which had come into 
being after the fall of Marshal MacMahon was a hard and 
uncompromising realism. The Panama affair was simply 
the financial manifestation of this spirit, just as much as 
the triumph of naturalism in letters, the transformation of 



the Press and the strident dominance of the mechanical as 
typified in the Gallery of Machinery and the Eiffel Tower. 

The men of the day did not sense the profundity of 
this revolution of ideals and manners. But nobody who 
had the interest of his country at heart should have 
tolerated the possibility of dragging down de Lessep's 
great enterprise to the sordid level of parliamentary job- 
bery. The only question that mattered was not that of 
pillorying fifty or more deputies, however richly they 
deserved it; it was the completion of the work itself, at 
whatever cost and whatever sacrifice. A genuinely realistic 
public opinion would have seen that the greater culprits 
were not the Reinachs, the Baihauts and the Rouviers, 
but the Government which permitted the enterprise to 
fall through. 

But at the time it was only the scandalous aspect which 
concerned people. The affair became a political battle- 
ground upon which all the party hatreds and private 
jealousies could be let loose. Men abused, vilified, and 
even assaulted their opponents, but they would not look 
farther afield. It was a purely party struggle, and it did 
not occur to any of the participants or spectators to regard 
it as a national affair. 

There was, of course, plenty of sympathy for the actual 
sufferers, and at first the sight of the pathetic groups of 
small investors clamouring hysterically in the streets for 
their money back aroused a genuine and not ignoble 
concern. Not for long, however. Everybody knows that 
life is like that; the sheep are always there to be shorn 
and the pity which they may arouse soon lapses into 
indifference. How many historians, writing of the war of 
1914 to 1918, waste ten lines commiserating the holders 
of Russian securities? 

The streets of Paris, that historic stage of so much that 
has changed the face of France, did not witness the most 
agitated scenes of the Panama affair. The ordinary man 
and woman, who had played so large a part in the Bou- 
langist adventure, took here no part at all. It was not, 
like the Dreyfus case, to excite feeling over a whole 
generation and to set anarchic ideas churning in thousands 


of heads that did not even suspect the influence. It was 
essentially a family quarrel, the great parliamentary 
family ranged against fifty erring deputies. It was even 
less than that, for it all took place in one parliamentary 
session prolonged over several weeks. Maurice Barres, 
who in Leurs Figures, has written the classic book on the 
subject, has found the exact title for it Unejourntepar- 
lementaire. But, what a day! 

It is not within our province here to detail all the events 
of that day, but, in trying to fix on the significant points 
of the drama and to assess their influence on opinion, we 
must run an eye over the protagonists, these politicians 
who found the floor of the Chamber transformed into an 
arena with themselves as either matadors or bulls. It was a 
fight to the death too, with a furious audience to see to that. 

The bulls were not very tame, either. 

There was Theodore Rouvier, 1 broad-shouldered and 
muscular, his face betraying the Levantine blood common 
among the cosmopolitan inhabitants of Marseilles. He 
was born for excitement, and he lived quite naturally at 
fever heat. The vulgarity of his appearance and manners 
was for a long time considered to detract from his chances 
of political success, but his marriage to the charming 
Claude Vignon refined him appreciably and his Southern 
fluency of speech enabled him to impose himself upon the 
Chamber. He knew how to hold an audience. 

His antagonism to Boulangism had made him many 
enemies in the Parliament of 1892, which still retained a 
strong body of the General's adherents. As soon as the 
first rumblings of the storm broke, and Rouvier, knowing 
that he was implicated, got up to defend himself, howls 
of execration from massed groups greeted him all round. 

By the side of this roaring bull, always ready to charge 
his adversaries, the elegant figure of Emmanuel Arene 
seemed more slender and graceful still. Ar&xe showed 
scarcely a trace of his Corsican origin. He had become 
the complete Parisian, the impenitent cynic who would 
turn a phrase at the foot of the guillotine. When Rou- 
vier, beaten to his knees like the bull he resembled, almost 

1 Premier 1877. Minister of Finance 1887, 1889-92. 


collapsed before his enemies, Arene, gracefully bowing to 
the assembled newspaper men, remarked, with regard to 
the famous "List of the Proscribed": 

"Well, for once in my life Pm certain of a Ministerial 

When Rouvier came to Trim bewailing his lot, "It's a 
ghastly situation for a newly married man with a little boy 
only six months old", Arene replied, "Poor little thing. 
But must you tell him?" 

Antonin Proust was also not devoid of wit, but he 
lacked the authentic manner. When the Libre Parole 
published his famous "Copenhagen letter", in which he 
naively avowed his financial relations with de Reinach, he 
appeared quite spruce and unconcerned among his fellows. 
But his social position, on which he set so much store, was 
fatally impaired. 

His nightmare, however, was nothing compared with 
that of Baihaut, who was quite definitely the scapegoat, 
the bull which the audience had most uncompromisingly 
consigned to the sword. The little fat, shivering man, 
as Barres has drawn him for us, first got up to defend 
himself and then ran to the magistrates to admit his guilt. 

"All his friends flung themselves upon the prostrate 
Baihaut like an infuriated poultry house upon a sick and 
ailing chicken. But their action was more calculated; 
in devouring him they were concealing something 
whose existence might compromise themselves." 1 

Edmond Drumont goes further than that, and states 
that when Baihaut was in prison and applied for permis- 
sion to see his dying daughter, his enemies contrived that 
it should be refused. 

"Later on, Casimir Perrier, who had been the 
wretched man's second in a duel, -was not allowed to 
remit even an hour of his sentence." 2 

All the chief actors in the Panama affair bear names still 
familiar in the public memory; some of them were des- 
tined later on to play very important political roles 
Brisson, Loubet, Floquet, and a little behind them, but 

1 Maurice Barres: Leurs Figures, p. 162. 2 Edouard Drumont. 


ever ready to hurl himself into the arena, Clemenceau, 
before whom men quailed even then. His round head, the 
skull covered with grizzling bristly hair, his face cut in 
half by the heavy stiff moustache which gave him the 
Mongolian aspect which he retained till the end of his 
days, his black coat, chamois waistcoat, and grey trousers 
were celebrated everywhere in parliamentary circles. Like 
an impatient horse, he fidgeted, bridled, and pawed the 
ground, seeking for some one to devour. And he found 
several of them daily. His duel with Deroulede, that 
dramatic finale to the famous sitting of December zoth, 
is his most celebrated appearance in the Panama affair, 
but none will ever know the intrigues, the undermining, 
and the spadework which he carried on unweariedly. 

In the opposing camp was Jules Delahaye, that athletic, 
energetic young man whose set mouth and cruel features 
justified his nickname of "the man who bites". "He was 
not merely impelled by hatred," says Maurice Barres, 
"but by an avid bitter joy of battle like a gladiator who 
neither gives nor expects quarter." Moved by passion 
rather than righteous indignation, not even very well 
informed about the whole business, he rose up to arraign 
the implicated deputies, pointing out the suspects one by 
one with his finger, not daring to mention a single name 
in the tumult of abuse which assailed him. All the same, 
he did his work well; whatever his denunciation lacked 
in precision it made up for in ferocity. He was out to 
unleash the furies, and he did it. 

In the shadows behind the politicians hovered the 
figure of the Baron de Reinach, a broad-shouldered man 
with a splendid vigorous body, which his friends ordered 
to be carved up after his death in a futile autopsy. Pre- 
sumably it relieved their feelings. 

But behind all these men, behind even the ill-fated 
Baron, was the real deus ex machina, the man who guided 
all the reins and made the puppets dance at his bidding. 
That curious popular instinct, which is seldom entirely 
deceived, was right in turning to him as the man who 
really held the key to the mystery. His name passed from 
mouth to mouth Cornelius Herz* What had Cornelius 


Herz said ? What would lie do ? Whom would he implicate ? 

They hurled themselves against his silence in vain. 
The little, plebeian-looking man stayed in his retreat at 
Bournemouth, and the craftiest interrogator could not 
inveigle a word from his lips. 

Cornelius Herz was not a figure of romance; he inspired 
neither confidence nor sympathy at first glance. He was 
perfectly aware of this. "Everything is ranged against 
me, 5 ' he said once; "even my own appearance." 

But his coldness and dullness disappeared when he 
talked. His bkck eyes radiated hypnotic influence, he 
had the supreme gift of suggestion, and he could make 
others believe what he wished. 

His tastes were of the simplest. He despised money, or, 
rather, valued it just for what it was worth. In one 
morning he would buy a collection of pictures for three 
hundred thousand francs, and lunch in a Duval cafe for 
two francs fifty. 

If you asked him about his profession he would reply 
vaguely that he was a "company promoter", a fatally 
descriptive phrase to our generation, and one which places 
him exactly where he belongs in that long line of adven- 
turers which we know so well. He was the first repre- 
sentative of a type that to-day is numbered by the 

What was his race and his native language? He spoke 
a jargon in which French, English, German, and Italian 
were oddly jumbled up, but in which English came finally 
to predominate. 

He called himself a Doctor of Medicine and showed his 
credentials willingly, handling them like a card-sharper 
trying to convice you that the cards are not marked. He 
was a Member of the Academy of Science and Medicine 
of San Francisco; a Fellow of the Royal Historical and the 
Royal Geographical Societies of London, and a Member 
of the Imperial Institute; of the Society for Colonial and 
Military Studies in France; of the Society of Army Reserve 
Officers, and finally, he was an officer of the Legion of 

He was born in Besanfon in 1845, his parents being 


Bohemian Jews. They emigrated to the United States, 
where he became a naturalized American citizen, but he 
returned to Europe at the age of twenty-one to lead that 
extraordinary vagabond existence which makes his life read 
like a picaresque novel. 

At one time he turns up as consultant to a mental home; 
at another, in New York, as a specialist in mental diseases; 
then as a business man and a financier. About the time 
of the Franco-Prussian War he married and returned to 
France, taking up a post as an Army doctor. 

He is next heard of being chased across the Atlantic by 
two Americans whom he had swindled in Chicago. Then 
back in Paris again, penniless, but accompanied by another 
citizen of the United States, Graham Bell, who had in his 
pocket the most astonishing discovery of the century the 

Herz and his fellow citizen took a little office in the 
rue de la Bourse and tried to get support for the mar- 
vellous invention. At first everybody laughed at them. 
Breguet introduced them to the Academy of Science, 
where the idea was treated as a joke. But Herz was 
indefatigable; he organized publicity, importuned and 
intrigued until at last he succeeded in obtaining official 
permission to lay the telephone wires between Versailles 
and Paris for a preliminary trial. It was successful. The 
Minister's office was connected with the Palace, and a con- 
versation took place. The telephone was triumphantly 

Herz had at last found his real vocation. Under the 
shelter of this or that scientific discovery or invention he 
could henceforth penetrate first the worlds of business and 
finance and ultimately into politics. 

There was hardly an industrial or financial venture 
between 1875 and 1889 which he did not direct. He had 
an unparalleled gift for intrigue, was completely devoid 
of scruple, and stuck at no means to achieve his ends. He 
could be generous, if necessary, and he saw everything on 
the grand scale. 

Exactly how and when did the Panama business start? 
Nobody knows; the whole affair is still full of unexplored 


shadows. It is certain that in 1880 Herz and the Baron 
de Reinach were associated, and that each had a chosen 
group of Parliamentary creatures. Each of them had also 
a newspaper under his influence in the one case Justice 
with Jules Ranc and Clemenceau; in the other, the Re- 
publique Frangaise with Antonin Proust and Jules Roche. 
The two manipulators used to meet, it is said, in the 
office of a certain engineer called Chabert, where they 
held council of war and sometimes quarrelled violently. 
All this was known to hundreds of people in Paris and was 
rumoured covertly in the Chamber and around the news- 
paper offices. But the public as yet had heard no word. 

The first hint came to them in the form of a violent 
attack in the Libre Parole by an obscure financier named 
Martin, who signed himself "Micros". His articles made 
general accusations of fraud and jobbery against de 
Reinach and his political associates, but nothing very 
definite emerged. This was in October 1892. A few 
weeks later the Libre Parole returned to the fray, but this 
time it was not the Baron who was attacked, but a long 
string of politicians whose names were given in black and 

What had happened in the interval was this. Reinach, 
in a panic, had gone to the Libre Parole, and had offered, 
in exchange for a cessation of the attacks on himself, the 
names of all those deputies who had received money from 
Herz on behalf of the de Lesseps company. The list was 
sent to the paper by its director Edmond Drumont 
then serving a sentence for sedition in the Saint Pelagic 
Prison through the agency of his old housekeeper. The 
Baron meant to kill two birds with one stone: to get back 
the support of the anti-parliamentary faction by throwing 
them their prey, and to scare the terrified Government 
into refusing an inquiry. Blackmail succeeded blackmail, 
but it soon became patent that the game was up. 

The affair, as we have said, is too complicated for us 
to follow all its ramifications. We can only briefly record 
the howl of .public execration which the disclosures pro- 
voked. The Libre Parole circulated from one end of the 
country to the other, and aroused a frenzy of hatred 


against the whole mob of "cheque takers" without dis- 
crimination between the innocent and the guilty. Mob 
justice is never very gentle, but when it is ranged against 
politicians its fury knows no bounds. 

The particular quality of the outbursts merits a little 
analysis. It was inevitably to be exaggerated by the scan- 
dalous scenes in the Chamber kter on, but its peculiarity 
was nascent in its first outcry. It was something alto- 
gether new in the history of the Republic; it was an 
expression of hatred and contempt for the elected 
representatives of the people as such. 

That hard intelligence with which the French as a race 
have been endowed more liberally, perhaps, than others, 
enables each man to judge his neighbour for what he is' 
not for his advantages of person, fortune, or rank. From 
this arises that profound absence of mutual respect, that 
jealousy, that mania for equality which distinguishes the 
French. It follows that if any one among us stumbles, 
defaults, or strays from the paths of rectitude, there sud- 
denly springs up against him a barricade which is the more 
formidable in proportion to his former prestige. All the 
jealousy which has been accumulating against him little 
by little as he rose up is unloosed in an instant. But when 
the offender is a politician, that is to say, a man whom the 
people themselves have raised up and furnished with 
weapons, then their rage becomes a fury without hope of 
mercy. This is what was shown so clearly at the time of 
the^ Panama affair, and it will be demonstrated again and 
again in contemporary history. 

Another point to which attention must be called is 
that the affair dug a sudden gulf between Parliament and 
?^ y 38 ' Attacked on a11 si des by journals of all factions, 
baffled and hounded by abuse and ridicule, commanded 
either to condemn itself or to resign, the Government 
could not fail to be aware how far public opinion had 
been inflamed by the Press. Maurice Barres, who is not, 
nowever, always impartial, writes: 

"The parliamentary world was devoured by a cancer 
of rage and fear. The Chamber sat continually all 


the week, having devoted four days of this time to a 
futile attempt to suppress the liberty of the Press. 
On the 1 7th M. Pichon, in the course of discussion, 
had occasion to mention the word 'journalists/ and an 
audible rustle of hatred (chronicled by the official 
report as a Sensation*) convulsed the whole house, 
so marked that the speaker paused and said, 'God knows 
that I can barely bring myself to pronounce the 

Following this came the suicide of the Baron de 
Reinach, and from the 2ist of November, when Jules 
Delahaye launched his accusation in the Chamber, until 
the Commission of Enquiry was definitely appointed, the 
House was in an uproar. All the principal actors rallied 
their supporters at the top of their voices; assault, repulse, 
and counter-assault were hurled across the floor until the 
Homeric combat culminated in the Clemenceau-Derou- 

The Commission of Enquiry, which should have 
brought illumination, brought only confusion, and liber- 
ated the basest intrigues. None knew who was hunter 
and who quarry, and all the political parties, all the news- 
papers and the officials of the Panama company poured 
oil upon the flames. 

The simple public fastened on to one thing only in all 
this confusion. To them every one connected with Par- 
liament was bespattered with mud from the malodorous 
torrent, and all the deputies were tarred equally with the 
brush of chequard. That fatal word became the topic 
of every song, gibe, anecdote, and demonstration. All 
along the boulevards itinerant vendors sold songs and 
broadsheets, "Who Hasn't had his Little Cheque", "How 
and where to Touch", "Mind you Get the Real Cheque", 
and so on. Caran d'Ache issued an album of drawings, 
Chic et le Cheque, and hundreds of caricatures appeared 
all over the place. Comedians, cabaret singers, and 
every one else found the "cheque" a mine of inexhaustible 

Nobody troubled to wade through the dull reports of 


the Commission of Enquiry. All the public bought the 
newspapers for so avidly was to follow the progress of 
Cornelius Herz. 

That agile adventurer, it need hardly be said, had not 
waited to feel the heavy hand of the police on his shoulder. 
He had prudently crossed the Channel and settled down 
in Bournemouth, from which salubrious resort he could 
snap his fingers at the French authorities. In vain they 
fussed about extradition warrants and judical enquiries; 
he managed to evade them all. In case the fear which he 
knew he inspired in parliamentary circles should not 
prove sufficient safeguard against an angry nation, he 
decided to become an invalid. From that time the whole 
thing became a farce. Doctors were called in consul- 
tation and gravely issued bulletins; the diplomatic 
authorities began to take interest, distinguished visitors 
left their cards, and the gallery read all the reports in the 
newspapers like instalments of a serial. Cornelius Herz 
became the public joke. 

There was, however, a rival claimant to this role. This 
was Arton (born Aaron), an Alsatian Jew. He had been 
well known on the Bourse as an unlucky speculator and a 
reckless gambler, but he always managed somehow to 
wriggle out of his difficulties. His tact and ability had 
attracted the attention of the Baron de Reinach, who had 
adopted him as a kind of publicity agent and introduced 
him to the parliamentary antechamber. 

Once there Arton found his true sphere and rapidly 
became indispensable. In his lavish distribution of the 
Panama company's money he must have managed to ear- 
mark a fair proportion for himself, for he lived on the most 
prodigal scale and gave himself over to insane extrava- 
gancies, When the Panama scandal burst, Arton was 
revealed as one of the principal cheque-distributors, and 
so he figured in the public eye as another, but less sinister, 
Cornelius Herz. 

^ the police of Europe were warned to look out for 
him, purely as a matter of form, of course, for no Govern- 
ment had the slightest intention of arresting him. But 
the pretence gave the newspapers an additional joke for 


their readers. Cartoons showed Arton peacefully feeding 
the pigeons outside St. Mark's with a friendly bodyguard 
of the detectives who had been sent to arrest him. 

All these things tended to turn the Panama affair from 
a scandal into a joke, and when the mob laughs it is dis- 

There were, of course, a certain number of formal 
acquittals by the Tribunal, and a much smaller number of 
condemnations. The affair, however, was now practically 
settled to every one's satisfaction, except perhaps to that 
of the unfortunate Baihaut, who had been so unwise as to 

A few months later the sensation was revived again 
by Lucien Millevoye, who, thinking he had at last got to 
the truth, read out to the Chamber a faked dossier which 
had been sold to him. For five or six hours there was 
uproar. The old hatreds and fears that men had thought 
appeased broke out in all their fury. Again the two 
fundamental divisions of the Chamber found themselves 
face to face Boulangists on one side and anti-Boulangists 
on the other. 

To sum it all up, the Panama scandal was really an 
attempt on the part of the anti-parliamentary party, the 
former supporters of the General, to use the malpractices 
of certain deputies to discredit the whole parliamentary 
regime and to excite a militant nationalist movement a 
double consummation which they partly achieved, but 
which in neither case proved to be as far-reaching as they 



THE period of anarchist activity between 1890 and 1894 
is one of the most curious in the history of the Republic. 
It is necessary, in order to appreciate it correctly, to go 
back a little into its origins and see how it expanded into 
its last phase with the Dreyfus case, with which it almost 
insensibly merged. 

On June igth 1880 a general amnesty was granted to 
all the political delinquents of the Commune and after. 
This meant the return to Paris of Rochefort, Valles, 
Guesde, and Lafargue to resume their revolutionary 

A few months afterwards, at the Socialist Congress at 
Havre, Jules Guesde and his friends introduced on their 
platform the principle of the "class war", a fight to 
the finish with bourgeois conceptions, admitting neither 
respite nor concession. At the same time Rochefort in 

Ulntransigeant, Valles in the Cri du feuple^ and Lafargue 
in UEgalitt were carrying on a violent campaign against 
the capitalist parties, denouncing the incapacity of those 
who had conducted the war, exposing the "massacres" in 
terms of horror and execration, and revealing the cam- 
paign of calumny which the bourgeois Press had waged 
against the Communards. They called upon all the 
workers of France to unite solidly in the new proletarian 


_ Their campaign was naturally furthered by the succes- 
sive parliamentary and financial scandals, Daniel Wilson 
and the traffic in decorations, the Union Generale crash, 
and the Panama affair. 

"My generation" (wrote Paul Adam, on the day 
when Feder and Bontoux, the Union Generale pro- 
moters, were sentenced) "was then in its twenties. All 
we students avidly devoured Karl Marx, and I remem- 
ber the ragged copy of Das Kapital, torn, dog's-eared, 



stained with the coffee of countless cafe-tables and the 
cigarette ash of countless sleepless nights, which we 
passed round and annotated and discussed. . . . The 
monstrous iniquity of the capitalist regime appeared in 
lurid light, and we sighed as we thought of the miserable 
millions ruined by the machinations of Semitic bankers. 
"What had not been swallowed up in that maw? 
Those modest patrimonies so honestly and industriously 
kid up, sou by sou, by our hard-working forefathers, 
farmers, doctors, civil servants, butchers, bakers, and 
candlestick-makers . . . those poor little fortunes of 
a few thousand francs or so representing a daughter's 
dowry, a son's educational expenses, or a decent pro- 
vision for old age, that had been gathered together so 
painfully in damp, shabby old houses where the mice 
ran over the floor, and the chipped crockery and the 
clock minus its gkss shade recalled the hardships 
suffered by our people in the successive financial 
debauches of the Revolution and the Empire. . . . 
Lawyers and magistrates now can do nothing but 
try to console the poor defrauded women as they 
despairingly make their hopeless calcuktions afresh." 

Landowners at the end of their resources were des- 
perately selling their property where and how they could, 
and the agricultural world experienced a succession of 
lean harvests with wages falling and bankruptcies multi- 
plying all round. 

It was impossible in these circumstances that the army 
of discontent should not have grown, and that when 
Guesde, Valles, and Rochefort, and presently the savage 
pencil of Forain, arraigned bourgeois society, they should 
not have found ready and eager listeners. 

The spectacle of the antics of the Government was 
equally encouraging to them. The Radical Party was 
united only in its anti-clerical activities and was always to 
be found divided and impotent whenever a vital national 
issue was at stake. It had just abandoned Egypt to Eng- 
knd for the sole pleasure of annoying M. de Freycinet; 
it had lost in the financial scandals what slight vestige of 


honourable reputation it retained, and it had not imple- 
mented a single social reform. It showed activity only 
in baiting priests or silencing criticism. 

In 1883, Kropotkin was sentenced to five years' im- 
prisonment, and Paul Lafargue, the son-in-law of Karl 
Man, to two. Henri Rochefort was suspended from 
his deputy's seat; any protesting voice was brutally 
silenced- Strikes were broken by armed force and 'fusil- 

And so an atmosphere favourable to revolutionary 
activities rapidly developed. But while the mass of the 
working classes enrolled in the Socialist Party, seduced by 
the purely material benefits which they hoped to get from 
triumphant Communism, a certain number of the pure 
intellectuals and of the imperfectly instructed Commu- 
nists leant towards Anarchism, the supreme glorification 
of the individual. 

One of the irritants which aroused these intellectual 
aristocrats was compulsory military service, which forced 
them to endure months or years of irksome discipline in 
company with the dregs of the pppulation. Lucien 
Descaves, Abel Hermant, and Paul Bonnetain had hardly 
escaped from the Army when they began to denounce the 
miseries they had been through the arrogance of the 
officers, the bullying of the non-commissioned officers, 
the frightful atmosphere of the Army and all its works. 
These attach rallied together all the young writers and 
would-be writers, all the self-constituted opponents of 
prejudice, custom, and hypocrisy, and all those who for 
one reason or another were in revolt against the fetters 
imposed by the society in which they lived. 

The invincible power of money was soon to be exposed 
in the harsh light of publicity by a master hand. Edouard 
Drumont, unknown then but to leap into fame imme- 
diately, had just published La France Juive^ a complete, 
precise, and formidable indictment of the financial 
leviathans of the period, mostly of Jewish origin, who, 
weighed down by their gold, pressed so heavily upon 
the country, corrupting integrity, poisoning goodwill, 
disseminating ruin and death in their train. 


At the same time Maurice Barres, in Uennemi des Lois, 
Un Homme Libre, and in the whole series dedicated to the 
Quite du Moi, was exploring the ramifications of intellec- 
tual narcissism. Under the guise of an apparatus criticus, 
he glorified with all his charm and talent the cult of the 
seductive ego. An epicure of life, who had flirted with 
all philosophies without believing in any, an amateur of 
psychological adventure and a natural sceptic, he was 
peculiarly fitted for his self-chosen role. He was the 
perfect introvert; the man to whom the world exists only 
as a stage on which to display his own emotions and ideas. 
He threw himself into the anarchistic movement with the 
same superficial enthusiasm, veiling an inner contempt 
which he was to reveal later in connection with every- 
thing that he took up. 

More ardent, more forceful and devastatingly sincere 
was Paul Adam, who in his Critique des M&urs pro- 
claimed his anarchistic tendencies without compromise 
or euphemism. Like Barres, he had strayed into the ranks 
of the Boulangists, to emerge with no illusions but with 
an unquenchable rancour towards the electoral regime. 
Bourgeois and proletariat, reactionaries and Republicans 
seemed equally base to him; he could find integrity only in 
the ego, and thus he exalted its supremacy over the mass. 

"Let us shatter all these cliques, destroy our base and 
degrading institutions, annihilate all and create some- 
thing a little more worthy of the thing that is in us/' 

The typical anarchist of the period was generally an 
educated, or, at least, a supposedly educated, man. Very 
often, however, he was only self-educated, and his intel- 
lectual apparatus, formidable as it seemed to himself, 
was in fact only puerile by comparison with solid standards 
of science and scholarship. But it was enough to lend him 
a deceptive eminence from which he could regard the rest 
of society as from Olympian heights. 

All that the daily commerce of life its pains, hazards, 
and necessities alone can teach humanity, passed these 
men by completely. They were anchorites voluntarily 
immured, men of a single book. 


All restraints and discipline, whether deriving from 
religion, patriotism, or social exigency, were equally 
abhorrent to them. Hardly less abhorrent were the 
human emotions themselves; love, other than the un- 
bridled satisfaction of the senses, excited nothing but 
ridicule, and pity nothing but disgust. Such was the 
intellectual monster produced by the society of 1885 to 
1895, a society where power and knowledge had been 
too suddenly disseminated, where the machine was not 
stable enough to withstand the violent revolutions of its 
motive engine. 

The first official political demonstration of the anarchist 
movement was in 1882 at Lyons, where Jean Grave had 
published a number of pamphlets and presently founded 
the first anarchist newspaper, Le Droit Social. 

Jean Grave was a leather-worker turned printer, a self- 
taught man but with a quite genuine literary gift, as may 
be seen from his La Socihe Mourante et ISAnarchie, which 
cost him two months in prison. Like all his kind, he 
lived and worked alone, printing his paper on a small hand- 
press, and only emerging sometimes in the evening to go 
to the cheap cafe where he met his adherents. 

These belonged to such trades as tailoring, carpentry, 
weaving, and leather-work, in which the workman has long 
and soStary hours to spend on a job and ample oppor- 
tunity for reflection. 

They talked of the events of the day, of politics, which, 
with the pathetic grandiloquence of the half-educated, 
they always called "philosophy"; but whatever they talked 
of they inevitably returned to the same complaint against 
society, affirming the same need for revolt against it. 
Some would exhort and counsel, others criticize and 
reject; but they formed within themselves a cenacle 
where no breath of the actual, diverse, living world out- 
side ever penetrated. They were as remote from the 
civilization they assailed as Roman slaves in prison. 

They would depart silently and without greetings, 
perhaps to meet to-morrow, perhaps never again. If a 
man disappeared there would be no questions asked, 
for a secret complicity, requiring neither orders nor 


explanations, existed between them. They were anarchists, 
recognizing no leaders and no followers, making no plans 
and issuing no instructions. Each man was a law to 

These little gatherings, informal, even accidental at 
first, rapidly multiplied and strengthened. Soon they 
became affiliated with each other and took names. In 
Paris there was the Cercle International, La Groupe 
Libertaire, La Ligue des Antipatriotes, and Les Enfants 
de la Nature. All the principal industrial towns Lyons, 
Bordeaux, Saint-Etienne, Lille, Roubaix, and Clermont 
Ferrand were honeycombed with associations like these. 

From such a setting sprang a man like Ravachol, who 
had five killings to his count and who would proudly show 
his right hand with its unhealed scars and say: 

"See this hand? It has killed as many bourgeois as it has 

Two of these men founded papers which were to gain 
some notoriety. The first was the aforementioned Jean 
Grave; the second Emile Pouget, with Le Pert Peinard. 

Emile Pouget was of lower middle-class origin. He had 
been a shop-assistant and had been active in promoting 
trades unionism among the employees of the big shops, but 
he suddenly veered from collectivism to anarchy. He was 
arrested during a riot with Louise Michel and sentenced 
to seven years' imprisonment, being, however, released 
after he had served three. He then founded Le P^re 
Peinard in Montmartre, a paper which passed through 
many vicissitudes, but was probably the most popular 
and influential of the anarchist sheets. 

It is a curious fact that while the ex-workman Jean 
Grave always employed the most correct and measured 
language in his paper, whose articles were for the most 
part purely theoretical, the shrewder and more business- 
like Pouget deliberately set out to inflame the lower 
elements. He went in for violent and abusive headings: 
"A Swinish Order", "Colonial Blackguardism", "Women 
for all", etc. 

There were several women prominent in these circles, 
strange, exalted creatures even more virulent than the 



men There was Louise Quitrine, another trades- 
;t turned anarchist; Ivanec, an Austrian married 
tench bookbinder, ver energetic and a fluent 
.. n otz a German with a aeep, throaty voice, 
always to the' fore at public meetings, and, finally the 
Red Virgb, Louise Michel herseit. 

LouisfSichel was almost repeUent to look at, yet her 
pkinness was redeemed by an acute and lively intelli- 
gence. Her perpetual black frock and small black hat 
with its veil streaming behind (rather like a Protestant 
pastor's wife) have now come to serve for us as a symbolical 
statue of Anarchy. She was the apostle of Woman, 
enslaved throughout the ages by tHe brutal domination 
of the male, and her whole life was passed in an attempt 
to shatter these chains. Before a bewitched and delirious 
audience she would evoke her memories of the Commune: 
"There has been no sweeter moment in my life," she 
cried, "than when I saw Paris burning, the flames shooting 
up before my eyes into a lurid sky, the supreme master- 
piece of a supreme artist." 

Wherever she appeared there was immense enthusiasm. 
Children brought flowers to her, men would speak of her 
as "the greatest figure of our times" or "the greatest force 
of the Revolution", and would add: "The name of Louise 
Michel resounds over the whole of Europe; it lifts up our 
hearts and makes us forget our defeats." 

Then Louise Michel would get up on the platform, and, 
intoxicated with words and Applause, would paint in 
glowing colours her ideal of liberty. Complete emanci- 
pation of the individual, no more hunger, no more cold, 
no more want and misery. No further need of law, 
police, or governments. Science would overthrow all 
obstacles, and men, the masters of science, would be 
masters of nature itself. ^ 

At this climax the audience would rise to its feet in wild 
enthusiasm, and Louise Michel would be triumphantly 
borne off on the shoulders of her supporters. 

While Jean Grave and the dour Emile: Henry, who was 
soon to pass from talking into the sphere of direct action, 
were disseminating anarchist doctrines, ^ group of young 


writers, including Paul Adam, Hamard, Barrucard, and 
Bernard Lazare, used to forgather at the Cafe Carazza, 
under the title of La Groupe de 1'Idee Nouvelle. 

The entrance fee was sixty centimes. The members 
did not carry bombs in their pockets, but they imbibed 
nevertheless the pure milk of anarchist doctrine, exalting 
the role of the individual against the community and 
arraigning the whole corpus of bourgeois ideals. 

Two years later the same group were associated with Zo 
d'Axa, one of the most picturesque figures of the move- 
ment, in the foundation of En Dehors. 

Zo d'Axa, whose real name was Gallo de Laperouse, 
was a descendant of the famous navigator, a handsome 
young man who had led a most disreputable life. He had 
been a cavalryman, but had deserted to Belgium; thence 
he had gone to Italy, where he ran an ultra-Catholic 
newspaper and seduced heaven knows how many women. 
Chased from one country to another by the police, he had 
profited by the general amnesty to return to France, 
where, being an agitator by temperament, he inevitably 
gravitated to the anarchist movement. He was a sort of 
Socialist condottieri, a dandy, a rake, and a natural ad- 
venturer. Ernest La Jeunesse nicknamed him the Res- 
taurant Recruit. 

The editorial offices of his paper, En Debars, in the rue 
Bochard du Saron, constituted a sort of club for the pure 
intellectuals of the movement. Its frequenters included 
Octave Mirbeau, Jean Grave, Bernard Lazare, and many 
others. It was inevitable that En Dehors should manifest 
a regard for literature pure and unalloyed which was 
lacking in La Rtvolte and Le fere Peinard. 

Finally, an influence enormously favourable to the new 
movement was exercised by a paper which, in the 
beginning, had not been designed to have any political 
affiliations. La Revue Blanche was a purely literary 
journal, but to it gravitated all the younger writers with 
advanced opinions. It never actually preached anarchist 
doctrines, but all its contributors were obviously influ- 
enced by them; less out of conviction than out of pure 
intellectual snobbery. Most of these contributors were 


comfortable bourgeois who had not the slightest intention 
of hurling bombs in the street. 

The proprietors of the paper, the brothers Natanson, 
belonged to that ckss of wealthy, intellectually inclined 
Jews who are never a second behind the fashion of the 
moment. They cultivated irony, scepticism, and epi- 
gram, by way of reaction against the ebullience of 
naturalistic prose, and affected a pose of absolute broad- 
mindedness regarding other people's opinions. The Revue 
Blanche clique, in fact, was an eviscerated edition of an 
anarchist club expressly adapted to the needs of literary 
men. Prominent among them were Jules Renard, Leon 
Blum, and Ernest La Jeunesse, who appeared to have 
assembled on his head the sum of ugliness which could 
possibly afflict humanity. His hideous face was crowned 
by a disreputable hat, and his voice was an excruciating 
and piercing falsetto. Everybody was frightened of him 
and deferred to him, except Camille Mauclair, who once 
gave him a memorable good hiding. He never paid his 
rent but compensated his landlord, so he said, by playing 
chess with him. 

Toulouse-Lautrec came nearly every night, panting up 
the rickety stairs, puffing and cursing before bursting into 
the room like a thunderbolt. He was bent and lame, with 
a jet-black beard and glittering eyes, and he lived in 
Montmartre, close by the haunts of the models he has 

Around them hovered Bernard Lazare, infecting the 
group with his Semitic hypersensibility and disquiet. - 

Down to 1894 the anarchist movement remained an 
intellectual fashion, almost a snobbish affectation on the 
part of young writers and idle women who wanted to be 
in the movement, until the sharp detonation of bombs 
under their windows brought home to them the fact 
that undisciplined ideas have a way of materializing into 
unguarded action. 

Social unrest was rife at the period. The institution 
of the May 1st holiday in 1890 had proved a pretext for 
disorderly scenes at a mass demonstration of workmen 
demanding an eight-hour day. The anniversary next 


year was more sinister; nine men were Hlled by gunfire at 
Founnies, provoking an immense outcry, not only in the 
anarchist and socialist Press, but almost everywhere. 

Some months later the first essay in direct action 
occurred. On March nth 1892 a house in the Boulevard 
Saint Gennaine inhabited by M. Benoit, one of the 
counsel appearing against three anarchists held for trial, 
was blown up. Fifteen days kter there was a similar 
outrage on the building where the Public Prosecutor 
lived. The militant anarchist movement had begun, and 
continued in a rising crescendo of public indignation 
which culminated when Caserio assassinated President 

The natural horror which these crimes aroused was 
heightened by the fact that the authorities and every- 
body else knew that they were powerless to prevent them, 
conceived and executed as they were by solitary, unor- 
ganized fanatics. The harsh, forbidding silence and 
secrecy in which the militant anarchist lived was his most 
effective safeguard against the police. Every one knew 
that these attacks, planned in solitude and silence by a 
man prepared to give his life for the cause, could never be 
warded off, and hence panic inevitably took possession of 
the city as one outrage followed another. The Parisian 
habit of herding together in large blocks of flats 
intensified the danger. 

"Landlords shudder" (said Gil Bias) "if they have 
got anybody connected with the law or the police 
among their tenants. In many cases they have given 
them notice to quit, while their neighbours fly to the 
country in abject terror." 

The most inoffensive parcel or object deposited outside 
a public building or in the hall of a block of flats threw 
those who discovered it into a state of panic. Municipal 
employees or the police were frenziedly summoned to 
transport, with infinite precautions, an old sardine tin 
full of sand and excrement. Practical jokers had the time 
of their lives. When they were not manufacturing fake 
bombs they were sending anonymous letters to inoffensive 


citizens, cliaritably warning them that they were about to 
be blown up. Gil Bias tells how, after Very's restaurant 
tad been destroyed by a bomb, a man named Weil who 
had a flat in No. 22 rue Julien Lacroix, showed his neigh- 
bours a threatening letter which he had received, where- 
upon eighty-two working-class families decided to move 
on the spot. In vain the police tried to reassure them; 
it only increased their terror, and they redoubled their 
efforts to drag out all their belongings and pile them on 
barrows and hand-carts in the attempt to escape to a less 
dangerous locality. 

When Ravachol, the first of the militant anarchists to 
be arrested, came up for trial at the Seine Assizes, another 
problem presented itself, that of the intimidation of the 
jury. Assailed by shoals of anonymous letters, insulted by 
inflammatory articles in all the anarchist papers, the 
wretched jurors were not likely to be reassured by seeing 
Very's restaurant go up into the air on the very eve of the 
opening of the trial. 

It was clear that nothing could be expected from them. 
Every one feared an outrage in open court, with the result 
that the public did not manifest any of its usual eagerness 
to crowd into a sensational trkl and gaze on the little thjn 
man with the cunning eyes whom it had taken ten men to 
hold down on the day when he was arrested. 

Two months kter Ravachol, who ought to have 
received the death sentence for civil homicide (he had 
five murders to his account), was found guilty, but with 
extenuating circumstances, and ordered penal servitude 

f if J- 

for life. 

Such a verdict outraged public opinion. "Extenuating 
circumstances! Where did the jury find them? In the 
ashes of Very*s restaurant, I suppose!" 

^The President of the Assize Court was overwhelmed 
with reproaches and the jury openly accused of cowardice 
and failure to do their duty. 

A cartoon in Pilori showed the President announcing 
the decision to a trembling and pallid court, with his bag 
at his feet packed ready for flight, under the legend 
"Who's afraid?" 


When the sentence was set aside and Ravachol ordered 
to the guillotine after all, fury broke out in the opposite 
camp. The song which the criminal had contemptuously 
sung to the crowd at the foot of the guillotine was yelled 
out in the streets and at the anarchist meetings, while 
pictures of his head encircled by a nimbus were sold under 
the title of "The Great Martyr" and "The Christ of the 
Anarchist Movement." 

Less ambitious ruffians were naturally not slow to avail 
themselves of such an example, and the profession of 
anarchist doctrines became a convenient pretext for any 
criminal with a grudge. 

Two fresh explosions, the bombing of the police station 
in the rue des Bons-Enfants in November 1892 and the 
attack on the Chamber of Deputies in December 1893 
gave proof that the subversive element was by no means 
intimidated. But in attempting to injure the persons of 
the deputies the anarchists made a tactical blunder, and 
Vaillant's bomb proved a fatal setback to the cause, 

"The blast of reaction" (wrote Henri Varennes) 
"blew relentlessly from that day. In a single sitting 
the Chamber, without discussion, passed a modification 
of Articles 24 and 25 regarding the liberty of the Press, 
and regulations proscribing secret and unlawful associa- 
tions and forbidding the possession of explosives were 
carried with equal celerity. A supplementary credit of 
820,000 francs was voted to the Ministry of the Interior 
to augment the police department. 

"They did not stop there, either, although every one 
was asking why, if these measures were likely to be 
efficacious, they had not been adopted before. Why 
had they been held in reserve until the Chamber itself 
was threatened? 

"Some of the precautions were ludicrous. The rules 
of the Chamber were modified and access to the public 
galleries made virtually impos$ble." 

The anarchist newspapers were", prohibited and vendors 
of Le fere Peinard, La Rfoolty or La Revw Littiraire 
made liable to imprisonment. 


On January 1st there was a great police drive in the 
Seine district directed against all the anarchist clubs and 
rendezvous. Two thousand warrants were issued and 
thousands of letters to "suspects" were seized and investi- 

The trial of Vaillant himself, the perpetrator of the 
attack on the Pakis Bourbon, was conducted with the mini- 
mum of judicial delay. He was sentenced at the beginn- 
ing of January and executed on the 5th of the month 

This vigorous offensive was met by increasing acts of 
violence on the part of the anarchists. Seven days after 
the execution of Vaillant, Emile Henry's bomb exploded 
outside the Cafe Terminus, followed by the explosions in 
the rue Saint Jacques and the Faubourg Saint Germain, 
perpetrated by the Belgian, Jean Pauwels, who was 
HUed by the explosion of a bomb in his pocket just as he 
was going into the Madeleine. On the 4th of April the 
front of Foyot's Restaurant was blown up, injuring several 
of the diners, including that intellectual libertarian Laurent 
Tailhade, whose words on the occasion of the outrage 
on the Pakis Bourbon were ironically recalled: "If the 
gesture behind it is noble, what does the act matter? 55 

A few days afterwards, Emile Henry was tried and 
condemned. He was the complete and undiluted anarch- 
ist, not a common criminal like Ravachol nor a distracted 
unfortunate like Vailknt, but a frigid and sceptical 
intellectual, with a shrivelled face, sharp nose, and pallid 
cheeks; a suppressed madman petrified by hatred and 
pride "the Saint-Just of anarchism' 5 as a journalist called 

He was also, it would seem, the grave-digger of the 
movement, for with the exception of the assassination of 
President Carnot by the abominable Caserio, no more 
outrages of the kind were perpetrated in France. The 
public were united in their determination to stamp 
them out, and thousands even of advanced thinkers 
recoiled before the horror which their speculations had 

This account of some of the chief phases of the 


movement would not be complete if it omitted some of 
the lesser men and incidents, which, if less striking than 
the outrages of Ravachol, Vaillant, and Emile Henry were 
nevertheless not without significance and even a touch of 
the picturesque. 

The Soup Kitchen Meetings, which brought Rousset 
into the dock, give a striking instance of the sympathy 
extended to the anarchists from the most diverse quarters. 
These meetings, which were a feature of the winter of 
1891, provided free meals for several thousand destitute 
people, to whom the blessings of anarchy were unfolded 
while they ate. We do not require the aid of the vivid 
descriptions which abound in lie Press of the period to 
enable us to conjure up the excitement and enthusiasm 
which these exhortations aroused in an audience so 
recently stimulated by warmth and food. 

It was a great joke to the audience when the names of 
their generous benefactors were announced. Among the 
principal subscribers to the enterprises were Naguet, 
Anatole France, Veil-Picard, Jules Simon, etc. Most of 
these had been hoodwinked by Rousset into believing that 
they were contributing to a work of bona fide philan- 
thropy, and there had been responses from the most 
unlikely quarters. Sarah Bernhardt had contributed a 
hundred francs, and Paulus had presented free theatre 
tickets for sale. 

Probably it was the respectability of his subscribers 
which saved Rousset from a heavier sentence: he was only 
charged with begging and got off with four months. 

Another amusing incident was that connected with the 
cabman Moore, although it did not, unfortunately, turn 
out so well for him. 

This Moore, a bald little man with a straggly beard 
and a generally furtive appearance, had received the 
signal honour of being recognized as a poet by Victor 
Hugo. Amused by his Jehu's confidences on the subject 
of his poetical aspirations, Hugo had said one day, "Why, 
we are colleagues. You must come and dine with me." 

Moore required no pressing and duly turned up at the 
poet's house in the avenue Eylau, where Hugo gravely did 


the honours, introducing him as a brother poet. Some 
time later, Moore was again driving Hugo when the poet 
said, "As you have always driven me in this life, I should 
like you to take me on my last journey." 

And so, when he heard of Hugo's death, the little cab- 
man went to the house and demanded the honour of 
driving the hearse. It was refused him, and from that time 
on Moore cherished a grievance against society. 

Grievances notoriously breed like rabbits. Moore be- 
came humanitarian, socialist, and finally anarchist. He 
frequented public meetings, composed and declaimed 
inflammatory verses against the bourgeoisie, fomented 
strikes and finally, when they all got tired of him, went 
back to the streets of Paris. Here one day he encountered 
Edouard Lockroy, and thereafter hung on to him like 
a leech, perpetually soliciting money, recommendations, 
or other assistance, all in the name of Victor Hugo. 

The exasperated Lockroy finally shut the door in his 
face, whereupon Moore in a fury got possession of a revol- 
ver, waited on Lockroy as he came out of a political 
meeting, and fired. Happily the bullet glanced off 
Lockroy^ waistcoat button and no harm was done. 

At any other time Moore would certainly have aroused 
a certain amount of sympathy and been acquitted. But 
the anarchist outrages had stiffened all the benches and 
he got six years' hard labour. 

Richard, another unlucky and impulsive creature, got 
twenty years for what was practically only a civil offence, 
all because he was foolhardy enough to make a declaration 
of anarchist principles. 

Villisse, a poor, wretched workman, took it into his 
head to demonstrate against the Russian sailors in the year 
of the alliance when they were being f Sted at the H6tel de 
Ville. He abused those round him who were cheering 
them, and finally, pulling a revolver out of his pocket, 
attempted to draw on the crowd. His weapon jammed 
and no one was actually hurt, but the jury elected to 
consider his offence as an anarchist outrage and gave him 

nve years. 


Finally, the Government, desiring to justify itself 


against indignant public opinion, arraigned a certain 
number of intellectuals as the moral accomplices of 
the assassins. This is what is known as the Trial of 
the Thirty. 

The prosecution was badly initiated and badly con- 
ducted. It became obvious to every one that the Govern- 
ment were merely seeking a pretext to muzzle the Press. 
The jury declined to give the Public Prosecutor his case 
and the accused were acquitted. 

The Trial of the Thirty, by the number and quality 
of the accused and the piquant juxtaposition together 
in the dock of authentic criminals and eminent men, 
created an immense sensation. The public crowded into 
the court to gaze at the unusual spectacle: the intellec- 
tuals had been provided with front seats with the common 
desperadoes behind them. 

The cross-examination strengthened the conviction of 
disingenuousness aroused by the opening speeches, and 
despite the efforts of the Public Prosecutor and the 
direction of the judge, the jury refused to confound 
the writers who had committed no overt act against law 
and order with admitted criminals. The publicists were 
acquitted, and Ortiz and Chericotti, found guilty of 
robbery without extenuating circumstances, were sen- 
tenced to fifteen and eight years' hard labour respectively. 

The verdict lifted an immense weight from the Press, 
which had been living in daily dread of the muzzle. The 
advanced organs, La Libre Parole, La Petite Republique, 
and L : 'Intransigent opened a violent campaign against 
the Public Prosecutor and the magistracy, and Rochefort, 
in the articles entitled cc Vomitings" and "The Man in the 
Iron Mask*', showed a ferocity unparalleled even by him. 

These papers were in their turn arraigned before the 
courts. And again the jury voted their acquittal The 
Press of all parties registered relief this time. Magnard 
wrote in Figaro: 

"There is nothing more dangerous than the strong 
hand misapplied. To arraign men whose doctrines, 
however reprehensible in themselves, contain nothing 


precise enough to be construed as legally subversive, 
to attempt to discredit them publicly and to associate 
them in criminal complicity with common malefactors 
who had never even seen them, is not merely a travesty 
of justice but a signal political blunder." 

This was the opinion of the overwhelming majority of 
ordinary Frenchmen. 



THE depressing chapters of administrative scandal and 
social upheaval which we have just chronicled ma7 now at 
kst be quitted for a more agreeable subject. The Russian 
Alliance of 1892 to 1896 gave the country new stimulus 
and confidence. It was, in fact, almost hysterically 
successful. If we want a phrase to evoke the particular 
quality of those years we cannot do better than take the 
title of one of Jean Lorrain's novels Tres Russes. 

The fashionable world was very Russian; every one was 
hailed as "Little Father" or "Moujik"; every one was very 
absent-minded and temperamental. We were all, in fact, 
a little mad. The Alliance was like a refuge offered to a 
shipwrecked mariner: he clutches, breathes, and is saved. 
France, so long isolated and discredited, rejoiced to find 
one nation at kst holding out a friendly hand, and her 
happiness was reinforced by the knowledge that she was 
establishing a not inconsiderable breakwater against the 
formidable Triple Alliance. 

The arrival of the Russian Fleet under Admiral 
Avellan in Toulon was the signal for an outburst of pro- 
Muscovite fervour. Toulon received them in a bower of 
flowers; garknded triumphal arches spanned the streets 
through which the Russians passed, and carriages hung 
with violets, mimosa, and carnations carried them in 
triumph through the city. Even the horses bore the 
Russian livery. 

The visitors were enchanted and a little bewildered 
at this spring-time fte staged in the fall of the year. 
They caught the bouquets that were flung in mid-air and 
returned them gracefully to the crowd; they endured with 
tireless good humour the perpetual rain of confetti with 
which their hair and clothes were strewn; they kughed 
and seemed to be delighted at everything, whereupon the 
two or three thousand people in their vicinity laughed 
to see them kugh and redoubled their zeal. It was 



lite a gigantic family festivity, prolonged over sixty- 

Their arrival in Paris unloosed the heavy artillery of 
national enthusiasm. All the street sellers hawked "Mus- 
covite Ties" and "Kronstadt Pipes" at nineteen sous, 
while for thirty sous you could buy the "Alliance Lan- 
tern" with a French soldier's head on one side and 
moujiPs on the other, both with transparent eyes to let 
the light through. All the women had black and yellow 
ribbons in their hats, and the men little buttons on their 
lapels with the colours of the two nations and the motto 
"Kronstadt-Toulon". The Franco-Russian tie was a 
startling affair of bright yellow with a black double-headed 
eagle and the tricolour stripe. Tobacco pouches with 
views of Kronstadt, match-boxes with portraits of Admiral 
Avellan, every Franco-Russian toy which human ingenuity 
could devise, were made and sold by the thousand. 

Old Parisians recalled that not since the return of 
Napoleon's troops from Italy had such excitement been 
witnessed in the streets. The high-water mark was reached 
when the Russian officers requested to be allowed to pay 
official honours at the obsequies of Marshal MacMahon,' 
who had died while they were in Paris. This graceful 
gesture went straight to French hearts and proved an 
enduring cement to the Russian Alliance for almost 
twenty years. 

Three years later, in 1896, the same scenes were 
repeated when the Tsar himself came to Paris. France at 
that time had acquired a President who considered him- 
self fully equipped to entertains Tsar of all the Russias. 
It is curious to note that the ludicrous pretensions and 
parvenu manners of Felix Faure incited much less ridicule 
and satire than had the angular silhouette of the unfortu- 
nate Sadi Carnot. The public instinctively loves pomp 
and is therefore prepared to overlook pompousness. But 
perhaps it would be kinder to say that the excitement and 
importance of the Franco-Russkn Alliance invested the 
President's overweening pride and ostentation with a 
veiling of decent excuse. 

At half-past ten on that sunny, radiant morning of 


October 6th 1896 Their Imperial Majesties steamed into 
Paris to a fanfare of trumpets and drums. Outside 
the Ranelagh station the whole of Paris, inflated by 
enthusiasm as by an intoxicating vapour, went up in wild 

What a triumph for Felix Faure in his very heraldic 
procession, with his white-wigged coachman and his 
grooms in blue and silver, his four-horse carriage and his 
outriders in bright livery. He almost came to regard 
himself, during that memorable visit, as a blood brother 
of the Tsar. 

The visit did not pass off entirely without incident. 
One day a lunch had been arranged to present to the 
Tsar the flower of the French aristocracy, and the choicest 
remaining vintage of the old regime had been assembled, 
including Princesse Mathilde, the Due and Duchesse 
d'Aumale, the Due and Duchesse de Chartres, and the 
Due and Duchesse de Rohan. All these distinguished 
persons were waiting for their luncheon, but Nicholas II 
had not arrived. 

After an exceptionally heavy programme in the morn- 
ing the Tsar had retired to change his clothes for the 
luncheon. Worn out by fatigue, he had fallen asleep in 
his room, and nobody dared to wake him up: not, at least, 
until half an hour or more had passed. And then ensued 
the extraordinary spectacle of that august and distinguished 
assembly racing through a meal as never before in their 
dignified lives: dish followed dish with lightning rapidity, 
knives and forks fairly flew at their task, pktes and gksses 
were whisked away and the whole table rose without even 
the offer of dessert. It must have been the shortest formal 
luncheon in history. 

Another curious anecdote is reported by Ernest 
Raynaud, whose official position as special police guard 
attached to their Majesties brought him for a while into 
close intimacy with them. 

One night the Empress awoke with a start and declared 
that she could hear shots aimed against her windows. 
Obviously she was mistaken, but all the same it was neces- 
saiy to summon the guard and investigate. 


"The Empress, in a dressing gown" (says Ernest 
Raynaud) "was prostrated in an arm-chair and round 
her a respectful and solicitous group composed of Baron 
Morenheim, Prince Obolensky, and an old gentleman 
in spectacles whom I took to be a doctor. A little way 
off stood the Emperor, looking at her with a ruffled 
brow. As soon as he saw me his face cleared, and 
without waiting for me to be formally presented to him, 
he held out his hand and apologized for disturbing us. 
Then he presented me to the Empress, who gave a dis- 
traught stare. The Emperor, who spoke French well, 
then questioned me about the guard and whether there 
had been any street disturbances. I replied that there 
had not, whereupon he begged me to assure her Majesty 
personally that there was nothing to fear. I did so, 
with more outward assurance than inner conviction. 
He then in his turn implored her to calm herself, where- 
upon she burst out: 'Light of my soul, if I am afraid it 
is less for myself than for Your Majesty's august person 
and for Olga, that precious gift of heaven. 5 Then she 
sprang up and would insist on going to see her daughter 
there and then. 

"The room where the little grand-duchess slept was 
on the second floor. There was the child, peacefully 
asleep in a little white-curtained brass bed, with the 
nurse's bed alongside. 

"The Empress went up to the latter and spoke to her 
in English, very quietly so as not to awaken the child. 
Then she went up to the cot and bent over it in a 
passion of tenderness. The Tsar, who accompanied her, 
did the same, putting his arm about her waist as he 
pressed against her in the narrow space between the 
beds. I could see their faces touch for an instant. I 
felt as though I had strayed in upon some intimate 
domestic scene in humble life, and the unpretentious 
little room lent strength to the illusion. Nothing could be 
less sumptuous than the little bedchamber with its plain 
grey wall-paper, its little brass beds, linoleum square and 
rush-seated chairs, its scanty ornaments and playthings 
and its bamboo screen with panels of flowered cretonne." 


What sentimental outpourings in the Press such a scene 
would have excited, had any reporters been present, 

The capital kept its enthusiasm at fever pitch during 
the whole visit. Provincials and foreigners arrived in 
large numbers and the theatres exhausted their ingenuity 
in providing topical entertainments. The Olympia staged 
Les Deux Peuples, the Theatre de Belleville, Gloire awe 
Allies, and the Nouveau Theatre Glinka's Vie pour le 

Yet it must be recorded that the Alliance, in fact, was 
nothing but a stock move in the diplomatic gambit, and 
despite all the enthusiasm it called forth it had no lasting 
influence on the relations of the two peoples. 

A much more enduring influence was that of Tolstoi 
and the Nordic writers and thinkers, Ibsen, Bjornson, 
Strindberg, and Hauptmann. These were the gods of the 
intelligentsia between 1886 and 1896, displacing the 
naturalistic writers and leaving their mark similarly, if not 
equally, upon the national literature and even in some 
degree upon the manner and daily life of our people. 

In 1888 the Theatre-Libre presented Tolstoi's Power 
of Darkness. In 1890 appeared Ibsen's Ghosts and The 
Wild Duck. While these plays were arousing the 
enthusiasm of critics, Melchior de Vogue's book on the 
Russian novel appeared, analysing and interpreting the 
strange ideals of Dostoevski, Gogol, Turgenev, Pushkin, 
and the rest. 

The ideas which these works set in motion were some- 
thing quite new to the French mind. The conceptions 
of world pity, resignation and non-resistance to evil began 
to work on the literary leaven, while, on the other hand, 
the revolutionary sentiments of Ibsen's heroes and 
heroines, the revolt of the former from the tyranny of 
society and of the latter from the tyranny of man, pro- 
voked a certain amount of response from the general 

Naturally, conceptions so foreign to the Latin tempera- 
ment did not make headway without resistence. Most 
people were inclined to look askance at the Ibsen plays, 
ridiculing their apparent naivete, guffawing at what then 


passed for audacities and contemptuously- dismissing the 
general sentiment. Man/ influential critics even, with 
Francisque Sarcey among them, supported and enjoined 
this view. 

The thurifers of this priesthood of the Northern Twi- 
light burnt incense more and more frantically. They 
almost swooned with emotion at Antoine's or Lugne- 
Poe's first nights, and feverishly lapped up every scrap of 
information regarding Tolstoi, who was then freely giving 
to the world his opinions on all things under heaven. 
This new intellectual snobbishness was at its height in the 
years following 1893. Everybody wanted to live his or 
her "own life" according to the Ibsen formula, and the 
growing changes in French social life changes which in 
a few years were going to produce such phenomena as 
the "emancipated woman' 3 and the "half virgin" can be 
largely traced to the influence of the northern literature. 

It has been said already that the French Press under- 
went a great change after the fall of Marshal MacMahon. 
We have already examined the influence of the naturalist 
movement upon it, and we must add to that the effect 
which vastly improved machinery, giving greater rapidity 
in composition and printing, inevitably had upon the 
form and contents of papers. They increased the number 
of their pages, although not the actual size of the sheet, 
lowered their prices, and did not go to press until much 
kter than of old. And the telegraph, soon to be rein- 
forced by that powerful ally the telephone, furnished 
a new and revolutionary channel of information. Gossip 
began to be shouldered out by news, articles tended to 
become more and more condensed, and imagination and 
fantasy, less in demand now than news of facts, began to 
play a very much reduced part in the papers' contents. 

One of the principal journalistic innovations of the 
period was the interview, which enabled the journalist, or 
rather the reporter, to penetrate the lives of his contem- 
poraries more closely than ever, restricting the historic 
canvas, as it were, to the actual scene of which he himself, 


his "subject", and his readers were all equally a part. 
Properly done, such an interview may afford posterity 
with the most valuable contemporary data, and it must 
be conceded that, on the whole, the Parisian Press between 
1890 and 1900 has served us admirably in that respect. 
The method had not yet been abused, and reporters still 
took the trouble to write decent French. 

Figaro, under the direction first of Magnard, and then 
of Rodays and Perivier, was still the most important paper 
of the period. 

Magnard was a worthy successor to Villemessant, ever 
on the alert to find something to put life into his paper, 
to which he was devoted body and soul. He had an acute 
sense of what the public wanted; he was not afraid to 
excite or annoy it, but he was always careful to follow an 
attack or hostile criticism with a soothing compliment or 
an adroit twist. He had a sound and a continuously sound 
judgement and by this he acquired, little by little, his 
almost uncanny hold upon his readers. "At one time," said 
Andre Maurel, "Magnard wielded the greatest influence 
in Paris. But he was always content with influence, and 
he resisted all temptations to extend it or divert it into a 
wider or more concrete field." 1 

After Magnard, Figaro fell under the direction of F. de 
Rodays and A. Perivier, each of whom immediately undid 
whatever the other attempted. Rodays, who was petu- 
lant, excitable, and irritating, always behaved as though 
he had sole authority. More calmly but very persistently 
Perivier did the same, with the result that life was made 
intolerable for Gaston Calmette, their excellent editorial 
secretary and liaison officer. 

Under their regime the offices of the paper were 
enlarged, transformed, and embellished, and on Decem- 
ber ist 1895 it triumphantly appeared as the first French 
newspaper to give its readers six pages. 

Figaro was to fall on evil days during the Dreyfus case. 
Fernand de Rodays sided with the revisionists, and his 
attitude caused shoals of cancelled subscriptions. There 
followed two very bad years for Villemessant's old paper, 

1 Andri Maurek Souvenirs fun Eaioain. (Hachette.) 


but de Rodays would not go back on his convictions. On 
the contrary, they became more and more emphatic and, 
with the assistance of that eminent Dreyf usard Comely, 
the paper still managed to hold out against its opponents; 
but at last it became obvious that it could not go on. So 
the unwanted cargo was thrown overboard, and Gaston 
Calmette, who had done most of the work of the paper for 
years, assumed the direction. 

After Figaro, Le Gaulois ranked as the leading paper of 
the period. 

To speak of Le Gaulois is to think of Arthur Meyer, 
that admirable journalist and picturesque personality, 
lineal successor to Girardin and Villemessant. His paper 
cannot be considered apart from him; it was included 
almost in his corporeal make up; it at once proceeded from 
him, dominated him and assimilated him completely. 
All who ever approached Arthur Meyer, even in his 
declining years, retain an ineffaceable impression of his 
tact, subtlety and experience, and of his almost unbeliev- 
able luck. Let these excuse his faults and his weaknesses. 

He was romantic enough to satisfy any one. His origin 
was humble and he never attempted to conceal the fact; 
but from his first appearance in Paris he displayed the 
most determined will to succeed, allied to a superlative 
flair and a quite inexplicable social assurance. Things 
were bound to happen to him. 

There was his almost legendary duel with Edouard 
Drumont, when after several sorties the combatants found 
themselves almost side by side. Arthur Meyer suddenly 
seized his adversary's sword with his left hand, and then, 
with his right, struck him a blow which wounded hi 

This outrage of all codes produced an immense scandal 
in Paris. "Gentlemen," said Meyer imperturbably when 
he returned to the Gaulois offices, "it mil take a war or a 
revolution to efface the memory of what I have done." 

He seems to have exaggerated a little, however. Three 
months later he was fined two hundred francs and six 
months later the whole business was forgotten, 

In becoming a partisan of General Boulanger Meyer 


forfeited a good deal of Royalist support, and Le Gaulois 
lost nine hundred subscribers. At the time of the Dreyfus 
case he lost much more than a thousand. But he went on 
his way all the same, pursuing that moderately Conserva- 
tive ideal which, as he wrote himself, not without unction, 
"has enabled me to attend successively the obsequies of 
Napoleon III, the Prince Imperial, the Comte de Cham- 
bord, and the Comte de Paris". 

AJlorilegium of Meyer anecdotes could be easily com- 
piled. Here are two which Maurice Talmeyr quotes in 
his book: 

"I asked him one day whether the time had not come 
for a little plain speaking on the subject of English 
political manoeuvres. He looked at me hesitatingly, 
reflected awhile, and then said: 

*"The King was so nice to me when I married. Don't 
be too hard on England.'" 

On another occasion Maurice Talmeyr heard that a 
Jewish reporter on Le GauLois had been converted to 
Christianity, and that a certain eminent society woman 
was acting as his sponsor. 

"'So, 5 said Talmeyr, Tollonair has been baptized?' 

"'Yes,' said Meyer with a sigh. 'I quite understand 

and, in a way, I approve. But he is a little lacking in 

tact. Aman should not get converted bef orehis editor! 5 " 

But these stories are legion. 

The birth of La Libre Parole brought a new personality 
into the journalistic world, Edouard Drumont, the author 
of La France Juive, with his long hair and beard like an 
ancient prophet's, and his mystical, ardent expression. In 
private life this furious revolutionary polemist, this im- 
placable enemy of the things that be, was a courteous and 
agreeable man who led a comfortable and respectable 
existence looked after by an old housekeeper Marie who 
towards the end acquired a remarkable ascendancy over 
him. 1 

1 It was thu housekeeper who, during the Panama affair, brought the list of 
implicated deputies with which de Reinach had tried to bribe La Libre Parole, 
from Drmnont in prison and carried it to the printer*. (See Chapter viiL) 


Edouard Drumont was essentially a student and a 
bibliophile. He had read everything and was only really 
happy among his books, in an old fashioned room which 
recalled to him the purer France of days gone by. It 
was entirely by chance that he had descended to the 
hustings, and no one could ever have been more unfitted 
for the noise and heat. He was a gifted writer but a poor 
editor; he did not have the gift of assembling either 
sensational critics or genuine men of letters. The staff of 
La Libre Parole were an inconsiderable and ill-assorted 
lot, and although Drumont himself had a number of 
faithful personal friends he never succeeded in creating a 
group which could impose itself upon the public. The 
history of La Libre Parole adds one more to the sum of 
those papers which are run by one man only, and as the 
literary reputation of Drumont grew, so the cause of anti- 
Semitism declined. Once again the workman had des- 
troyed his own work. 

It seems very far from all this back to Gil Bias, still 
nevertheless the wittiest and most typically Parisian of 
papers. It had left its farcical little offices on the Pkce 
de I'Opera and had taken more sumptuous premises in the 
rue Gluck, taking over a bankrupt cafe. There was a 
magnificent staircase, a large hall and beautiful rooms with 
painted ceilings. But in spite of all this the director, 
Rene d'Hubert, was uneasy: 

"Fve a feeling that this place is unlucky," he said, 
glancing his eye around through the inevitable monocle. 

It was certainly to prove unlucky to him. Very soon 
after, he was ^compelled to resign and leave the direction 
of the paper to three business men, one of whom, Albiot, 
a thick-set, olive-skinned Southerner from the Pyrenees, 
gradually came to occupy the editorial chair. 

The paper went on very much the same. The Baron 
de Vaux still wrote his scandalous tchos under the signa- 
ture of Le Diable Boiteux, and the other contributors still 
continued to function under such period titles as L'Intre- 
pide Vide-Bouteilles, Le Chasseur Solognot, etc. But 
these old showmen were beginning to manifest signs of 
wear and tear after so many strenuous years of the gay life 


of Paris. What had seemed so dashing and amusing in the 
days of the Marshal seemed tawdry and frivolous somehow 
in the more sober era of Felix Faure. 

There were a certain number of new men on the staff. 
Maurice Barres, always very grand seigneur in appearance, 
Marcel Prevost, Maurice Talmeyr; and the grave face and 
serious eyes of Jules Bois, the representative of the occult 
sciences, might also be encountered. The occult was one 
of the crazes of Paris at the moment, and Jules Bois was 
its historian. 

The self-styled Sar or High Priest of the movement was 
Josephin Peladan, who decked himself out in private with 
vestments of hieratic splendour. Apart from this he was 
an excellent writer, much under-estimated at the time, 
and a precursor of many things, notably in the appreciation 
of Wagner. 

Under his auspices the first Rosicracian salon opened in 
March 1892. Its frequenters were divided into two 
camps: the initiate who rhapsodized before the mystic 
paintings of Carlos Schwabe, Jean Delville, and Alphonse 
Osbert, and the sceptics who came to mock. 

Peladan paid no heed to the latter but went on with his 
various activities. One of these was a revival of ancient 
liturgical music, which was entirely neglected by the 
ecclesiastical authorities of the day. In the same month of 
March 1892 he arranged a performance of the Messe du 
Pape Marcel, sung a cafella by forty voices. Later on he 
staged Babylone, a piece from his Tbtdtre de PAme, whose 
merit is only just gaining recognition. 

In 1892 a new paper was started, one which was to 
make its proprietor a prodigious fortune from the first. 

Fernand Xau, a plain reporter, fired by the great success 
of the literary journals, first conceived the idea of an 
organ of the same type, brilliantly edited, open to all 
young writers and all new opinions, but excluding every 
trace of politics. Fernand Xau went for his readers to a 
lower social class than that for which the earlier literary 
papers had catered. He envisaged them among the lesser 
civil servants, clerks, and tradesmen, among the better- 
educated artisans, and, above all, among the women of 


the country; for they, with more leisure to read, would be 
enchanted to possess a paper, not written over their heads 
but displaying nevertheless a flattering and seductive 
veneer of culture. The precise nature of this populariza- 
tion of the literary journal is crystallized in the neutral 
title chosen for the paper itself Le Journal. 

The event triumphantly proved that Fernand Xau was 

Having secured financial support, Xau scoured Paris 
for suitable collaborators. His recruiting sergeant was 
Catulle Mendes, who by his share in the modernization of 
Gil Bias had shown himself to be not without experience 
in such matters. Underneath his romantic exterior, 
Catulle Mendes was shrewd, active, and conciliatory; an 
admirable man for the job. His immense vitality had to 
spend itself, and he excelled, says Leon Daudet, "in cap- 
turing his man by sheer bedazzlement". 

Since nobody could resist Catulle Mendes, the staff of 
Le Journal was soon complete. It included Franfois 
Coppee, Maurice Barres, and Severine; Octave Mirbeau, 
always in a rage over something, Georges Courteline, 
Paul Adam, buried in a cravat like one of his own heroes, 
with the incredible falsetto of Ernest La Jeunesse domi- 
nating the conversation, and the sonorous voices of Emile 
Bergerat and Georges d'Eparbes chiming in like inter- 
mittent gongs. 

"Sometimes" (says Leon Daudet again) "a dispute 
would degenerate into a scuffle, and you would hear a 
noise like the foundering of a ship with conciliatory 
voices trying vainly to make themselves heard. Some- 
times some crisis or other would bring into the office a 
whole crowd of idiots, generally in some way connected 
with the proprietors, hot-foot with the latest scandal 
overheard in the cafes, which would soon be trans- 
formed, with the necessary embellishments, of course, 
into authentic and exclusive information. The news 
of the disastrous fire at the Charity Bazaar was brought 
in thus by Marieton, but nobody could be induced to 
believe him. In vain Marieton multiplied harrowing 


circumstantial details, stammering atrociously in his 
excitement: Tve just come from C-c-cours la Reine 
and I saw them b-bringing out the b-b-bodies/ 

" c Stop playing the fool,' said somebody at last. *We 
have five telephones and a complete news service in- 
stalled here. If such a thing had happened we should 
be the first to know/" 1 

The discomfited Marieton went out, banging the door 
behind him. But a little while after newsboys rushed into 
the streets crying out a special edition of Ulntransigeant 
blazing the news. Fernand Xau, leaping into the air in 
fury, shrieked aloud to heaven and earth to witness the 
incompetence of his collaborators. A quarter of an hour 
after fifty reporters were sent out to cover the town and 
bring back sensational stories. 

Paul Marieton and his stammer was a standing joke on 
Le Journal, but its outstanding personality was Jean 
Lorrain. He was then at the height of his popularity. 
He had made his first appearance some years previously 
with a series of social and literary portraits in Uv&nement> 
which said out aloud what had hitherto only been 
whispered and gave incontestable proof of their author's 
powers as a satirist. Gifted with a sure taste and an 
artist's eye, nobody could have been better equipped to 
convey those "artistic impressions", the literary legacies 
of the de Goncourts, so much in favour at the time. 

On Le Journal, Lorrain's peculiar ubiquitousness, his 
faculty for seeing everything and saying anything with 
the confidant nonchalance of a spoiled child, were pecu- 
liarly valuable. He always recited his stories before 
putting them on paper. 

"He was" (says Georges Normandy), "essentially a 
narrator. He had lunched here; discovered a new dish 
there, or some china somewhere else. He had yawned 
in somebody's artistic drawing-room or had just been 
smoking opium in a dive on the Etoile. A fortune- 
teller had predicted extraordinary things to himj a 

1 Lion Daudefc UEntrt deux Guerres. (Parit 1915.) 


Duchess had quoted indifferent verse until he almost 
wept; an acrobat at Olympia had excited his sensual 
desires, or the poetry of Bataille or Albert Samain his 
tears of appreciation. . . " 

In his latter days he conceived a disgust for that life of 
Paris, swarming with beauty and obscenity together, which 
once he had loved so much, and turned more and more 
for solace to the sun-articulated landscape of the South. 
But if he is remembered now at all, it is in the editorial 
offices of Le Journal, in that feverish hour under the crude 
artificial light, with his friends all round him Ernest La 
Jeunesse, and the beautiful Liane de Pougy with her 
immense cartwheel hats an hour in the life of Paris, gone 
now for ever. 



THE Dreyfus case not only probed the national conscience 
to the quick; it exercised a considerable and calculable 
influence upon the evolution of ideas throughout the 
world. The affair in itself was commonplace enough, but 
chance ordained that it should gather round it all those 
elements which naturally make for social disturbance. 
The honour of the Army and the integrity of the magis- 
tracy, the conceptions of justice and injustice, the liberty 
of the individual conscience, the Jewish question and the 
conception of patriotism that is to say the whole 
foundation of civilized society were the profound issues 
before the bar. 

How did the case come to assume its furious and dis- 
ruptive nature, splitting the nation from end to end into 
two camps? 

We can now see that this passion which it aroused is 
one of the most reassuring as well as the most exciting of 
spectacles; for a nation which can display so much energy 
and fury in dealing with conceptions of such fundamental 
importance gives an incontestable proof of its dynamic 
force. Can we say so much of France to-day? Should we 
be found capable of this same passion for a set of moral 
ideals? We should like to tTnnlr it, but we cannot venture 
to assert it. In 1898 we were not yet supine under that 
appalling tyranny of materialism which weighs upon us 
now like a leaden shroud. Those who fought each other 
then possessed the inner liberty of being able to give 
themselves to and for their dreams, and because of that 
this fratricidal war is not without beauty. 

It would not be possible to trace in detail the develop- 
ment of this moral revolution. Our province is to note its 
effect on public opinion as the drama unrolled. From this 
standpoint it lasted very much more than two years, for 
although the actual events took place in the years 1898 
and 1899, their repercussions could be felt throughout 



the years which led up to the great war of 1914. Like the 
Panama affair, but on an infinitely greater scale the 
Dreyfus case embittered and poisoned public and political 
life in France for ten years or more. 

For the general public the point of departure was Zola's 
famous letter "J'Accuse" which appeared in L'Aurore 
on January I3th, 1898. The preceding stages had been 
only very roughly and imperfectly comprehended by the 
man in the street. He vaguely remembered that an officer 
named Dreyfus had been sentenced for espionage towards 
the end of 1894. He had also, equally vaguely, heard of 
some dispute between the two colonels Picquart and 
Henry, but the affair had been virtually forgotten until 
Figaro began to agitate for a re-trial. Gradually the whole 
case was brought back into the limelight and feeling began 
to rise until the acquittal of Esterhazy unloosed the first 
tumult. But above all the clamour from various quarters, 
interested and disinterested, thundered the loud voice of 
Emile Zola from one end of the country to the other: 

It proved to be the gong that released the combatants. 
Advocates and opponents of the revision began to face up. 

"The cleavage was the work of a minute" (says M. 
Daniel Halevy 1 ) "among the politically-minded classes, 
which alone were capable of grasping all the details and 
facets of so involved and far-reaching an affair, each 
family had taken up its position, decided upon its tactics, 
and entrenched itself behind closed doors. Eor Paris 
no less than medieval Florence has its family feuds, and 
its unembattlemented houses shelter no less warlike 
factions. The minds of the French reverted instinctively 
to the classic formation: authoritarian or libertarian, 
faithful and heretic." 

Everybody enrolled in one camp or the other and 
no one ever changed sides. All were driven equally by 
the same passion. Paris was no pkce for the sceptical, the 
contemptuous, or the tolerant. 

1 Daniel Hal&y: Luttes et Problem*. 


During the whole duration of the legal proceedings 
against Zola the court was like a battlefield. Only those 
who actually saw the crowd surging round its precincts and 
shared in its tense, excited movement, can have any idea 
of the feeling aroused. Heavily reinforced guards of 
police and soldiers were drafted in to keep back the people. 
It was a continual demonstration, men coming and going, 
haranguing here and gesticulating there, burning news- 
papers of the opposing faction, shouting "Vive Zola!" or 
"Vive PArmtel", cheering or hissing the arrivals, and 
threatening a stampede at any moment. 

Inside tie court the excitement was scarcely better 
controlled. The counsel, the magistrates, and the pro- 
tagonists almost came to blows, and the corridor reserved 
for magistrates and jurors was so crowded that the 
President of the Court could scarcely make his way 
through. Zola would have been literally torn to pieces 
were it not for the faithful and stalwart bodyguard which 
always surrounded him, and the ushers of the court were 
powerless to prevent the scuffles and uproars which were 
continually taking pkce. 

This state of affairs ksted throughout the entire 
proceedings, and it was naturally not alleviated when 
the verdict went against Zola. The news ran through the 
cafes and the streets like wildfire, and feeling became so 
acute that partnerships, friendships, and even homes were 
ruptured by it. 

But the revolution for such it was remained still a 
constitutional one. It was content to wait on the tardy 
hands of legal justice without rushing to the rifle and the 
barricade. Its havoc was in the realm of the spirit. 

The extraordinary conversions made by the "Affaire" 
are a striking proof of this. We have already mentioned 
that of Figaro, which, following its director's convictions 
and at enormous cost both to its circulation and its pres- 
tige, espoused the Dreyf usard cause. Other notable con- 
verts were Jules Comely and Francis de Pressense, the 
archetype of conservative Frenchmen, who was always 
accusing others of being too lenient with the advanced 
factions. Pressense, although a Protestant, was very 


highly thought of in Catholic circles because of his pane- 
gyric on Cardinal Manning. But the best known of all 
these dramatic conversions was that of Zola's greatest 
literary enemy, the ironic sceptic who was to become a 
thurif er of the new religion. It was strange to see Anatole 
France at the Dreyfusard meetings, listening eagerly to 
burning speeches whose violent rhodomontade would once 
have provoked his most contemptuous smiles. 

The opposing camp could show spectacles just as 
ironic. Franfois Coppee, the charming almost too 
charming lyricist of the poor and humble, had become 
transported by martial fervour and sounded a clarion call 
for the honour of the French General Staff. 

But the man whom the affair transformed most com- 
pletely was Jules Lemaitre. The scholarly, rather scep- 
tical man of letters became almost overnight the man of 
action and the leader of a political party. 

The progress of the affair is like that of a film scenario, 
where incident succeeds incident and alarm follows alarm, 
keeping the audience all the time at fever pitch. From 
the suicide of Colonel Henry events followed each other 
with bewildering rapidity; ministries rose and fell; in- 
trigues multiplied and Press campaigns raged on either 
hand. Everybody who in any way, however remotely, 
was connected with the business found the current of 
his life interrupted. Some people even grew rather tired 
of it. 

"It's all very serious," said a caricature of the period. 
"D'you suppose it will be very much talked about a 
thousand years hence?" 

Each camp, of course, had its own caricaturists, but the 
Nationalist Party, by virtue of the adherence of Forain, 
was easily the best equipped. Th^t savage pencil, whose 
wit and cruelty have seldom been surpassed, drew blis- 
tering pictures for the Echo de Paris, and kter on for his 
own paper, Fstt 9 whose title cried in the streets often 
induced passers-by to stop, turn round, and, inevitably, 
purchase it. 

The principal artistic luminary of the Dreyfusard camp 
was Hermann-Paul, who founded Le Sifflet, a journal 


which its sellers joyously hawked with ear-piercing 
whistles. But he was no Forain. 

Among the seething cast of characters there were some 
who remained on the stage till the end. The counsel were 
the same throughout. Predominant among them was 
Labori, a blond ox of a man with a loud voice and vigorous 
gestures, like a boxer at the Bar, a likeness heightened by 
the way he wore his hair low on the forehead in a sort of 
fringe. He flung himself into the case with all his reserves 
of ardour, and he never weakened or gave in until the day 
when an assassin removed him. 

By his side was a figure contrasting in every respect. 
Me Demange was the typical decorous and respected 
lawyer, a man of weight whose opinions carried authority. 

"His speeches" (says Maurice Talmeyr) 'Svere like 
those melodious and sonorous organ preludes which 
gradually draw in all the other instruments, from the 
hautboy to the trombone, and fill the vast cathedral 
with a majestic and awe-inspiring volume of sound/* 

Labori and he were admirable complements, and 
together they formed a combination which could easily 
outclass any team which their opponents could put up. 

The politicians whose names recur most often to the 
mind, after Ranc and Scheurer-Kestner, the real pillars of 
the revision, are Clemenceau, then at the top of his man- 
eating form, Joseph Reinach, the pope of the Dreyfusards, 
Cavaignac, who achieved the summit of parliamentary 
success in a month and was compelled to resign a few 
weeks later, Ddcasse and Waldeck-Rousseau, who put the 
finishing touch to the affair. 

The writers were perhaps more involved in things than 
any one. Emile Zola was for two years certainly the best 
hated man in France; his life was threatened continually, 
infernal machines were posted to him, and he was the 
subject of shoals of fulminating letters, insulting cartoons, 
and every form of abuse. 

Maurice Barres, with his Scenes et Doctrines du National- 
ising, continued in his role of eyewitness, but Urbain 


Gohier, Severine and Jules Lemaitre on one side, 
Edouard Drumont and Henri Rochef ort on the other, were 
in the thick of the fray. The two chief organs of opinion 
were UAwrore, the official mouthpiece of the Dreyf usards, 
and the Echo dt Paris, the upholder of the military author- 
ities. To these magnetic poles were drawn all the pens 
and all the passions in their respective camps. 

The death of Felix Faure, which occurred at the be- 
ginning of 1890, came as a considerable shock to a public 
opinion strained almost to breaking point. It was hailed 
with joy by the Dreyfusards, who had always seen an 
enemy in the defunct President, and it was a source of 
great satisfaction to Clemenceau since it enabled him once 
more to rig a Presidential election. "There goes a man 
who will not be missed," he wrote in UAurore, announcing 
the death of the President to his readers, and his article 
concluded with the rallying cry, "Vote for Loubet." 
This was quite enough to set the whole of the Nationalist 
camp against the new nominee, and Parisians looked 
forward to scenes of considerable liveliness. 

They were not disappointed. All along the route by 
which Loubet was to pass on his way to the Elysee after 
his election were lined bands of Nationalists and anti- 
Semites. As soon as the unhappy Loubet appeared he was 
greeted with hisses, catcalls and shouts of "Resign!", 
"Down with Loubet!" and "Up, the Army!" while around 
his carriage swarmed men surging forward with cries of 
"Hang him!" "Throw him in the river!" It was only with 
the greatest difficulty that the police managed to get him 
to the Elysee safe and whole. 

That night the streets of Paris swarmed as if another 
revolution had broken out. Bands of the opposing factions 
were everywhere coming to blows, and beneath the 
statue of Joan of Arc a massed meeting of the League of 
Patriots was being addressed by Paul Deroulede. Despite 
the lateness of the hour, a huge and quivering crowd hung 
on his burning voice as he launched the call to arms, 
bidding the people to come out in their thousands and 
support him at the kte President's funeral procession, 
4 Vhen the real criminals of the Court of Cassation will 


pass In front of your eyes." Men went away with, the 
conviction that something sensational was abont to 

The sensational happening became suddenly trans- 
muted into farce. After the funeral ceremonies Derou- 
lede rushed up to General Roget, seized hold of his bridle 
and cried: "March on the Elysee, General. Take pity 
on France." The General, extremely irritated, repulsed 
Deroulede, and a riot ensued from which the troops even- 
tually managed to extricate Deroulede and Hubert, taking 
them to the barracks for shelter. In due course an officer 
appeared and informed the excited tribunes, pacing up 
and down the Salle d'Honneur, that so far as General 
Roget was concerned they were free to go. 

"Free!" screamed Deroulede. "Not even arrested!" 

The real gravity of the incident was inevitably swallowed 
up in the ludicrous aspect, and Paris quickly forgot about 
it. Public opinion was much more excited three months 
later, when at the Auteuil Steeplechases the Baron de 
Christiani raised his walking-stick to assault the President 
of the Republic. This ill-advised attack reawakened the 
old hatred of the nobility, always dormant in the Parisian 
working classes, and instigated a mass demonstration on 
the day of the Longchamps Grand Prix. 

From early dawn a procession of workmen, students, 
clerks, and small tradesmen, all with red buttonholes and 
with sticks and cudgels in their hands, marched in mass 
formation towards the Bois de Boulogne, making for 
Longchamps, singing the "Internationale" as they went. 
It might have had very grave consequences, and it was 
directly provoked by the stupid and ill-judged action of 
the Baron de Christiani, another example of that incur- 
able lack of political sagacity which seems always to dog 
the Right. 

While all these things were happening the Dreyfus case 
was still dragging on. It had lasted eighteen months 
when the decree of the Court of Cassation revoked the 
condemnation and ordered Dreyfus to be re-tried by the 
Court Martial at Rennes. Popular excitement broke out 
again, and the second trial and condemnation of Dreyfus 



to ten years' imprisonment reanimated all the fires of 
partisan fury and personal rancour. Once again the 
country seemed to be almost on the brink of civil war, 
when the President of the Republic, exercising his pre- 
rogative, released Dreyfus from his sentence. "The in- 
cident is now closed," said the Minister of War jokingly. 
It was not, however, closed for Dreyfus until five years 
later when the Court of Cassation definitely acquitted and 
reinstated him. 

The year 1889 was a dramatic one for the stormy 
petrels of direct action. On August I2th the Government 
arrested Deroulede and several other prominent Royalists 
and anti-Semites for conspiracy against the State a 
decision which provoked the famous "siege of Fort 

Jules Guerin, the leader of the anti-Semite league, for 
whose arrest a warrant had been issued, barricaded him- 
self in the offices of his paper UAnti Juif in the rue de 
Chabrol and refused to give himself up to the police. 
With him were a number of his followers, "armed to the 
teeth", it was said, and anyhow fully prepared to offer a 
desperate resistance. 

Not wishing to cause any bloodshed, the Government 
decided to put a cordon of troops round the improvised 
fort and starve out the occupants. 

The building became the cynosure of Paris. Crowds 
waited round to catch a glimpse of Jules Guerin, who 
occasionally appeared at the windows or on the roof, 
while Lepine, the Prefect of Police, came several times a 
day to give instructions. This comedy lasted for thirty- 
seven days, at the end of which Lucien Millevoye nego- 
tiated the raising of the siege and Jules Guerin was 

The arrested Nationalists came before the Court in 
November, and once again passions ran high in the 
Chamber and in the streets. Guerin was sentenced to ten 

Ears' imprisonment, Andre Buffet, Lur-Saluces, and 
eroulede to ten years' banishment from France. This 
time it seemed as though France was sated with political 
and social crises. Luckily the Exhibition of 1910 was at 


hand to turn men's mind to other things, and they turned 
with the immense alacrity of relief. 

We have said that the ravages of the Dreyfus affair 
extended into almost every department of the national 
life. It was not to be expected that the social world 
would escape the hurricane. Feeling ran as high in the 
drawing-rooms as elsewhere, and there were in the be- 
ginning stories of ludicrous and undignified scenes where 
hostesses, outraged by the aggressive or differing opinions 
expressed by their guests, turned on them with uncon- 
cealed fury, while well-trained domestics reiterated 
plaintively that dinner was served. 

The two "official" salons of the opposing parties are 
well worth a sketch. The first was that of Madame Ar- 
man de Caillavet, the centre of Dreyfusism, whose bright 
particular star was Anatole France. The other was the 
house of Madame de Loynes, which was the fortress of 
nationalism with Jules LemaJtre as uncrowned Hng. 

Madame Annan de Caillavet had lived for many years in 
the beautiful house on the avenue Roche where a brilliant 
assembly of literary men and cultivated people generally 
forgathered every Sunday, Chosen intimates also dined 
on Wednesdays. 

The hostess was a woman of very unusual intellectual 
calibre. She was an admirable judge of men, but could 
conceal her opinions when it suited her. She had a ready 
wit, and she knew how to dominate an assembly. She was 
a faithful friend, faithful in the distinctively masculine 
fashion. There was, indeed, something definitely mascu- 
line in her make-up, M. Andre Maurel testifies that there 
was nothing feminine in her intellectual processes. 

"She judged and appraised things exactly like a 
man. She had a sure taste in art and her culture was 
immensely catholic, save that she did not appreciate 
music, which she held to be lacking in logic and pre- 
cision. Whenever emotion was exalted to the place of 
reason she instinctively retired." 


She was a purely eighteenth-century type who might 
have sat at the feet of Voltaire. 

By the side of such a woman a husband would neces- 
sarily play a subordinate part. But the high spirits and 
exuberance of M. Annan prevented him from being 
entirely overlooked. He was a big, jovial man, rather 
given to buffoonery, whose unconventional manners and 
loud jokes sometimes scandalized those who met him for 
the first time. He cultivated indiscretions and malicious 
nicknames, which he would launch out into a room re- 
gardless of his audience. Most people thought him a 
little crude, but he was. actually much more subtle than 
he appeared. 

The Sunday receptions were invariably very crowded. 

"Fifty or more people would be gathered in the 
drawing-room" (says M. Maurd) "mostly round 
Madame Annan, whose favourite seat was an armchair 
by the mantelpiece; but this vantage-point was not 
easily maintained since the fireplace was on the short 
side of the room and was quite near the door through 
which newcomers came in. You always had to be 
moving on to let somebody pass by, but nobody would 
have renounced his uncomfortable position for a king- 

Whoever else might be there attention was always 
centred on Anatole France. He never came down until 
the room was full, when Madame Annan sent a message 
upstairs, where he would probably be talking to her 
husband. Then the master would deign to make his 

Everything had been carefully stage-managed for him, 
everything devised at once to flatter and amuse him. 
Women came to offer adulation like incense, men eminent 
in all walks of life to exchange ideas with him and to 
expand in his unique intellectual atmosphere. No 
Oriental satrap or despot was ever more solicitously served 
than he by Madame Annan: no man's inner and secret 
self was ever more completely and profoundly understood. 


In return he brought her the lustre of his presence and 
a share of the homage so freely bestowed on him* 

There he held court, but at the bottom of his heart 
he was singularly contemptuous of all who came. But it 
gave him sardonic pleasure to assume the most enthusi- 
astic appreciation of them* He would Hss the women's 
hands with false flattery, dropping honeyed words of 
compliment with incomparable art into their bemused 
ears. He would deliberately magnify the importance and 
the status of his listeners, it would be "My dear sir . . . 
our contemporary Raphael . . ." "our future Talma". 
He loved to roll the titles of dignitaries and officials on 
his tongue: it was always "Your Excellency", "My dear 
Senato?', and so on. Out of malice? Perhaps. But 
fundamentally out of a genuine romantic taste for power 
and glory, and an essential archaism. 

The wit which has been quoted so often was not always 
spontaneous. He loved to play around an idea, pursuing 
it, embroidering it, before he finally decided to launch the 
famous epigram. One of his paradoxical tastes was to affect 
to despise originality in writers, maintaining that it was 
a purely secondary quality in their equipment. When 
J. H. Rosny said to him one day: 

"That's a good bit of local colour in your Homer 
* Don't spit in the rivers for they are sacred,"* France 

"It ought to be. I got it out of Hesiod." 

On another occasion when a fulsome admirer was con- 
gratulating him upon a certain anecdote he said: 

**Yes, it's good. It comes from an Italian author." 
And he added: "Heaven knows Pm just as capable of 
inventing anecdotes as anybody else, but it irritates me. 
I prefer to reassure myself by using one that has served 
already. At least I know that somebody has found it 

One day a guest showed an antique cameo ring for the 
great man's admiration. 

"Whose head do you think it is?" asked the possessor 

"Well, whose do you want it to be?" asked France. 


From the early days of his education by the Jesuits he 
had cherished an animosity against the Church, and when- 
ever he found himself at table with an ecclesiastical 
dignitary he would always adopt an unctuous tone and 
pontifical gestures, while drawing recklessly upon his 
store of voluptuous knowledge and experience for the 
discomfiture of his clerical listener. 

How could the man who wrote that all men love 
injustice, the sceptic who held it to be a fundamental 
necessity of human society, come to range himself with 
the Dreyfusards? The conversion was probably due to 
Madame Annan, but M. Maurel attributes it largely 
to the influence of Jean Jaures, who was among the 
frequenters of the house. 

"The wide culture and intellectual force of the 
tribune struck a response from the eclectic knowledge 
and innate boredom of the writer. The integrity of 
the one aroused the generosity of the other, and the 
sauvity of France knew exactly how to temper and 
adapt the rough directness of the tribune. I don't 
think I am wrong in attributing mainly to Jaures the 
revolutionary orientation of France's later life.. It is 
incontestable that from the time of their meeting 
the rather supercilious dillettante, the sceptic whose 
malleable spirit lacked the essential iron of conviction, 
became not merely the most violent of the Dreyfusards, 
but a sympathizer with all the most extreme revolu- 
tionary ideas." 

The Annan de Caillavet salon inevitably followed its 
leading light and thus became the most active centre of 
Dreyfusard propaganda. Every Sunday the tone grew 
warmer, and every Sunday found Anatole France more 
firmly entrenched in his extreme opinions. Soon he 
yearned to proclaim them on some more congruous stage 
than a drawing-room full of worldly and wealthy dilet- 
tanti, and so he decided to mount the platform at the 
Socialist public meetings and address the people. 

The new recruit was received with acclamation. He 


made a picturesque convert, the author of Thais humbly 
approaching his poor, unlettered brethren. His reputa- 
tion lent a certain amount of welcome prestige to the 
extreme Socialists and for two years he was the star 
performer at Belleville and Vaugirard. 

It is probable that Madame Annan did not view these 
later peregrinations of her hero with any too favourable 
an eye, but so far as the Dreyfus case itself was concerned 
her partisanship never abated in ardour. 

There were two other women who brought almost 
equal enthusiasm to the cause: Madame Enule Strauss 
and Madame Menard Dorian. 

Madame Strauss lived on the Boulevard Haussmann, 
opposite the statue of Shakespeare, a low-ceilinged apart- 
ment where the light barely filtered in through the smoky 
atmosphere of Paris. She was a daughter of Halevy, the 
composer of La Juive, and the widow of Bizet, whom she 
had married for love. Her salon was naturally much 
frequented by artistic and theatrical people, and it was 
very characteristically Parisian. She was very cultured 
but with no trace of pedantry, beautiful, pleasantly senti- 
mental, and with a gift for launching epigrams and 
promoting conversation. And she had the supreme social 
gift of interesting herself in those who came to see her; 
she contrived in some way to follow all their activities and 
to make herself essential to them. And so her rooms were 
always crowded, and by many of the socially elect. 

"Every facet of Parisian life was represented there" 
(says Madame de Clermont Tonnerre). "There would 
be Forain talking to Meilhac, who generally arrived for 
dinner with a long string of shoe-lace dangling (he was 
too fat to tie them up himself). He was full of his dis- 
covery of the city's ktest charmer, Liane de Pougy, 
whom he had taken out to dinner. Others who came 
frequently were the young Marcel Proust, Georges de 
Porto-Riche, Simone Le Bargy, Rejane bringing all 
the gossip of Paris piping hot from the Ministry, the 
newspaper offices, and of course and above all, from 
the theatres." 


Madame Strauss handled such an assembly to perfection, 
and would always be found in the centre of attraction, 
turning one of the phrases for which she was famous. 

It was she who remarked to a friend flaunting a recent 
decoration: "A woman's breast was not made for medals, 5 * 
and of a mature beauty growing very substantial in her 
decline: "She is more than a statue; she is almost a group." 

On the day when Dreyfus was convicted Madame 
Strauss went into mourning, and the heat of the con- 
troversy which raged round her was such as to cause 
breaches with many of her friends. But she stood up 
against the storm and retained a bodyguard of the faithful, 
knowing perfectly well that the disaffected would return 
to her in due course. Everything dies down some day, 
even an Affaire Dreyfus, but for a long time the calm of 
the social reunions in the flat on the Boulevard Haussmann 
was severely shaken. 

So also was that of another famous hostess, Madame 
Menard Dorian, a charming creature with a lively intel- 
lectual curiosity who had always inclined to extreme views, 
Socialism, anti-clericalism, and the entire freedom of the 
individual. It may be imagined that her drawing-room 
echoed to the wildest alarms and excursions during the 
famous case, drawing professional righters of wrongs from 
all over Europe, ardent spirits to whom Dreyfus was 
Christ and Zola his prophet. 

Enthroned like a god among these dervish dancers of 
free thought was the interdicted Colonel Picquart, "the 
angel of the revision", as his less restrained admirers called 
him. He was a pleasant-looking man with a rather pro- 
minent nose and a gentle expression. Time was to prove 
him lacking in the genius with which he had been so 
superabundantly credited, but his distinguished manners, 
conversational gifts and undeniable culture kept him upon 
the pedestal which, it must be admitted, he occupied 
modestly enough. 

This same* man, on the other side of the spiritual 
barricade, was vilified and execrated by thousands. And 
nowhere more than in the central temple of the Nationalist 
priesthood, the salon of Madame de Loynes. 


After the war of 1870 a young officer, the bearer of a 
very distinguished and honourable name, the Count de 
Loynes, had left the Army and married the fiancee and 
heiress of a friend killed in battle. The marriage was not 
a happy one; grievances and dissensions multiplied, and 
at last the parties separated. The Comtesse de Loynes 
returned to her girlhood home in the rue de V Arcade, and, 
having considerable social ambitions, began to entertain 
largely. She was beautiful, with a clear and lovely face 
and deep eyes under high arched brows. She wore her 
hair swathed in two huge coils and bore a striking 
resemblance to the famous Rachel. 

Her beauty was equalled by her culture, her intelli- 
gence, and her real distinction of character. All those 
who knew her testified to her loyalty and her worth. She 
had that instinctive and unlearnable charm and tact with- 
out which no woman can ever preside over a salon, and 
she had always known almost every important figure in 
the political and literary worlds. After her separation 
from her husband all her friends rallied round her 
Qemenceau, Porto-Riche, Deschanel (very young then), 
Ernest Daudet, Blowitz, correspondent to the London 
Times and very well informed on everything, Henry 
Houssaye and Andre Maurel, who has left the most 
touching and graceful souvenir of the circle where he first 
learnt the social round. 

She received every day between five and seven, a routine 
which would seem insufferable to hostesses to-day. But 
such assiduity was necessary then if you wanted to make 
your house a salon. It was the classic tradition of the 
eighteenth century, and it was that hoary survivor of the 
great days, Emile de Girardin, who had impressed upon 
the Countess the necessity of following it. 

The story of the first meeting of the Comtesse de 
Loynes and Jules Lemaitre is a romantic one. He was 
then a rather awkward young provincial just arrived in 
Paris and he asked Madame Annan de Caillavet to get him 
a ticket for one of Arsene Houssaye's balls. 

There he encountered a charming mask in heliotrope 
who excited him by the most stimulating conversation. 


Taken by storm, lie passed the whole evening in her com- 
pany, and a day or so kter, when lunching with Madame 
Annan he was still extolling the incognita's wit and charm. 
Piqued by curiosity about the woman who would not give 
her name, he besought Arsene Houssaye to supply it. 

" Give me till to-morrow," said the latter, "and I'll take 
you to her." 

And so on the following day Jules Lemaitre went to see 
Madame de Loynes, and for twenty years he remained by 
her side. 

These two were made to understand each other. As 
Arthur Meyer said: "There could never have been an 
association between them, nothing less than a union . . ." 

Very quickly Jules Lemaitre acquired the habit of 
spending all his time with the Countess. He dined on 
Fridays, of course, also on Sundays, a day reserved for 
relatives and her most intimate friends. 

Almost identical as were their tastes, Jules Lemaitre did 
not, in the beginning, share all his friend's enthusiasms 
for certain individuals. Like all women, Madame de 
Loynes admired success and was always ready to entertain 
the notorious. And so it happened that at the same table 
where Clemenceau used to sit (sat still in fact, though not 
at the same time), Madame de Loynes would entertain 
General Boulanger, to the intense disgust of Lemaitre, 
who couldn't bear him. 

At that particular period Jules Lemaitre was the ortho- 
dox bourgeois Liberal, essentially though not ostentatiously 
sceptical, and a convinced Republican above all. He 
sneered at the bkck horse and the Boulangist legend as 
mere cabaret heroics, a pantomime fantasia drawn by 
Caran d'Ache. It was a long time before Madame de 
Loynes could induce him to modify his political opinions, 
but the return of Deroulede from Italy and the resump- 
tion of their acquaintance ultimately had the desired 
effect. Lemaitre and Deroulede had visited museums 
together and discovered a number of mutual enthusiasms, 
and their friendship ripened rapidly under the approving 
eye of Madame de Loynes, 

Then Jules Lemaitre came to regret that he had not 


thrown himself into the Boulangist movement. "It was 
a genuine national movement," he said, "and I should not 
have held aloof." A little later on the condemnation of 
Rochef ort for some unusual outspokenness revived his old 
Republican indignation, but the Panama affair really con- 
verted him. From the disclosures of that sordid jobbery 
he reverted absolutely and finally to the Nationalist camp. 

When the Dreyfus affair came to a head the salon of 
Madame de Loynes divided sharply into two camps. She 
had just installed herself in new quarters on the avenue 
des Champs-Elysees, and in order to be near her, Jules 
Lemaitre had also moved a little way off. He lunched 
with her every day, not a line of his was written for pub- 
lication without she saw it first, not a situation in a play 
without it had been exhaustively discussed between them. 
They were, in fact, collaborators. 

Almost immediately Madame de Loynes, which is to 
say Jules Lemaitre, took command of the anti-Dreyf usard 
camp. He left Figaro for the cho de Paris, where, 
always under the auspices of the lady, he commenced his 
violent attacks on the revisionists. As the months drew 
on and the affair became more and more involved and 
extensive the idea of forming an actual political party 
began to take shape in his mind. 

One might say that the Patrie Franaise League was 
actually founded in the salon of Madame de Loynes. Its 
moving spirits were Franjois Coppee and Jules Lemaitre; 
Maurice Barres, Brunetiere, Cavaignac, and Colonel 
Monteil were active supporters, and a number of the 
younger men were drawn in. 

Their first public meeting was on January I9th 1899 
and more than fifteen hundred people were present. 
Fran9ois Coppee spoke first, followed by Jules Lemaitre. 

Everyone wondered whether Madame de Loynes would 
be there. She sat in a box, the only one the hall boasted, 
with her faithful companion, Mile Pauline, and all heads 
were turned in her direction as the whisper ran round: 
"Yes, it is." "It is she.]' 

Madame de Loynes did not consider that the time had 
now come for her to retire from the stage; on the contrary, 


she knew that her advice and counsel were never more 
necessary. She was a woman who knew how to listen and 
how to weigh up and make use of what she heard. 

"If ever you discussed in her presence" (said Leon 
Daudet) "anything or anybody of which or of whom 
she had exceptional knowledge and understanding, she 
always had the sense to refrain from joining in. She 
was a woman to the finger-tips, and she remained 
feminine in all discussions, but it was a penetrating 
femininity which no compliment could deflect. Many 
of those who considered themselves the shrewdest of 
people often burnt their fingers through not listening 
to her advice, and a man like Syveton, who despised, or 
affected to despise, all women, consulted her often and 
openly praised her common sense. She was ready for 
any situation and any circumstances." 

The new Nationalist Party was now launched in a fair 
wind, and its success at the municipal elections seemed to 
presage a triumph in the parliamentary ones later on. 
Jules Lemaitre rushed from one public meeting to 
another, working himself to death, but so intoxicated by 
the applause of the crowd that he could not bring himself 
to forgo it. It was kte before he could get back to report 
to Madame de Loynes, weary, dishevelled but entirely 
happy in his new career. 

We all know how ill-founded his hopes proved to be. 
The election of 1902 was a disastrous defeat for his new 
party. On the night of the poll, Madame de Loynes, 
with Lemaitre, Judet and Leon Daudet, sat inside the 
Cafe de la Paix, through the windows of which they could 
read the illuminated results outside the office of the cko 
de Paris. The Place de POpera was overflowing with 
people, Nationalists and Republicans about equally repre- 
sented, so that each result was greeted with an outburst 
of cheers from one side and catcalls and hisses from the 
other. Paris had gone mad with political fever during the 
election, but even the most sanguine adherent of the new 
party felt that something had been irretrievably smashed 
that night. 


"It was Madame de Loynes who rallied us" (continues 
Leon Daudet), "reminding us that, in the words of 
Tacitus, it is not necessary to succeed but to persevere. 
How I admired her firm optimism, her strength of 
character, her indomitable belief in the country^s 
destiny. Then we went out, picking our way through 
the crowd to the League's Central Offices in the rue de 
Gramont. There we found Cavaignac, Coppee, and 
the rest of them, gloomily opening the telegrams 
announcing the provincial results. What long and 
discomfited faces. . . ." 

The decline of Jules Lemaitre's great work began from 
that night and progressed to its inevitable eclipse, 

Madame de Loynes held out till the end; her faith was 
never dimmed, and until the last she rallied and heartened 
the Leaguers. But as her political hopes declined, she 
turned more and more to literature for refuge. Once 
again her house became the great literary rendezvous 
of Paris, a neutral territory where the friends and foes of 
yesterday could rest and take breath. Her undoubted 
influence on the elections to the Academy brought the 
aspiring and the ambitious once more around her; once 
again she entertained indef atigably to luncheons, dinners, 
receptions. The thunder of political strife echoed no 
longer within those gracious, illustrious walls, and when 
at last she died it seemed as though a peculiarly French 
tradition of culture had passed away for ever. 



OF the period following all these upheavals we can best say 
briefly that France was learning to get wed to her new 
masters. We have repeatedly and desigtte^y stressed the 
rapidity of social developments once ibc departure of 
President MacMahon removed the last remaining pro- 
perties of the Second Empire theatre, Wut France had 
barely had time to become used to the faptde of the new 
regime before a disquieting series of lesiioons revealed its 
insecurity and its imperfections. Such antii-parliamentary 
reactions as Boulangism and the LigDes de la Patrie 
Frangaise were fundamentally, as we luve s$;nd, expressions 
of public disgust at the spectacle. 

But mercifully human life is not entirely "Centred round 
parliaments. Political crises may agitate a: nation for ten 
years or more, may provoke anti-parliamentary reactions 
on the one hand and extreme revolutionary tendencies on 
the other; governments may lean f renzieodlllj* this way and 
that way for support, but the man in the: itreet will find 
time to think of other things. And pre-#nniiaently among 
the other things, during the stormy yesonrwe have been 
considering, France succumbed to the lure of sport. 

When? No general dates can be giveinu Tennis was 
introduced in France about 1878; footbal in. 1880. The 
first golf club of Paris had been founded &a riier, in 1851, 
but the game did not become popular tatffl much later. 
Gymnastics, of course, have always beet with us, but it 
was about 1890 that the Swedish system, wMuts regularity 
of method and scientific teaching, was fi,ra*t introduced. 
The historic sports, horse-racing, running^ swimming, and 
boating were as popular as ever, but the j oys of winter 
sports were unknown save to a select few down to the end 
of the century. 

It was not, of course, that sport was evfcr "discovered". 
What we mean by the phrase is the pubBoc: attention and 
emphasis bestowed upon it of late years, and the social 



colt which has made it the national craze. All this was 
accomplished in ten years. Between 1885 and 1895 
France passed definitely from the category of non- 
sporting nations into that of the sporting ones. And the 
particular sport which made the fashion and worked the 
miracle was bicycling. 

"The bicycle" (says ]. H. Rosny, senior) "is very 
much more than a social novelty; it is one of the greatest 
events which have occurred in the history of the human 
race. It may be that the discoveries of fire, of writing 
and of printing were intrinsically more important, but 
it is certain that the slow-moving quadruped who 
sacrificed his forefeet to become man and climb over the 
world, has in one stroke become the swiftest-moving of 
them all The significance of such a fact is incalculable. 
I will not here develop the thesis that bicycling was 
the first stage in the evolution of aviation, since it taught 
man to preserve his equilibrium almost in space, and 
taught his eye to range as alertly as a hawFs." 1 

The credit for introducing the bicycle to the French 
public belongs to a journalist, Pierre Giffard. With the 
reporter's passion for novelty he had been writing, under 
the title of "Jean Sans Terre" a series of articles in the 
Petit Journal at the beginning of 1890, enthusiastically 
describing a new mode of locomotion which he regarded 
as a paramount social benefit. The writer's simple and 
practical matter, allied to a pleasant style, ensured the 
success of his campaign. He enumerated the advantages 
of this little machine that veritably gave wings to man 
and which bestowed upon him the privilege of rapid 
movement at the cost of a very slight muscular effort. He 
proclaimed that the bicycle was the true chariot of 
democracy, the means by which the workman could 
escape from the town in his spare time and spend a few 
hours with nature. He prophesied that it would become 
equally indispensable to the peasant, and to the land- 
owner; he foresaw an illimitable future for the little 

1 Un outre mondt. (Plan.) 


mechanical fairy which could so multiply the powers of 

Such vigorous and prolonged publicity could not fail to 
popularize the invention. From being almost unnoticed 
in the Exhibition of 1889 the bicycle soon began to attract 
more and more attention, until it was the topic of all 
tongues and the cynosure of all eyes. It was not then a 
thing of beauty. Its lines were inharmonious, its handle- 
bar enormous, and the wheels tyred with solid rubber did 
little to absorb the shocks of the road. But for all that 
it was so simple and practical and so easy to steer that 
Pierre Giffard found thousands of disciples in a very short 

But before the social success of the "little steel fairy" 
could be assured, it was necessary for some well-known 
personage to make it the fashion, to patronize it in broad 
daylight before the eyes of Paris. Who could have been 
more suitable for this role than the Prince de Sagan, the 
king of fashion and the arbiter of Parisian taste. 

On that particular day there was only one topic of 
conversation among all the riders and promenaders in the 
Bois, and it began like this: 

" 'Have you seen the Prince?' 
"'No,, not yet!' 

"'Well, he's riding a bicycle down the Poniere 
" 'Nonsense, he couldn't possibly!'" 

And those who had not seen him with 'their own eyes 
started their horses off at a gallop to the said walk to see 
if the news was true. 

There was no mistake. There he was, in a most striking 
suit, crowned by a straw hat of entirely individual shape. 

From that time on to be smart you had to bicycle. A 
number of the elect united to form a Bicycling Club. It 
was called the Omnium, and its first president of committee 
was the Due d'Uzes. 

People soon began to feel the need of a periodical 
entirely devoted to the absorbing subject, and this was met, 



in 1891, by the appearance of the Cyclt> to which was 
later added, La Eicyclette. Then the indefatigable Pierre 
Giffard launched Le Flo y a daily sheet which grew more 
and more enthusiastic with every issue. The army of 
devotees was recruited from all classes, and it now seems, 
judging from their subsequent paeans, that the literary 
folk were among the earliest to be converted. 

beauty of the bicycle" (said Maurice Le Blanc) 
"resides in its sincerity. It conceals nothing. All its 
workings are open and visible and proclaim aloud their 
end, which is to go quickly, lightly and quietly. There 
is a genuine aesthetic emotion to be derived from the 
bicycle, a new artistic gratification in watching these 
pretty little racing animals whose every detail pro- 
claims their purpose. What more symbolic of speed 
than those two equal wheels, their spokes, distended 
and quivering like the veritable nerves of a body, two 
infinite and eternal legs without beginning or end? 
What more eloquent of stability and security than that 
lean and vigorous skeleton, those handle-bars, like reins 
of steel, and that whole muscular mechanism so logical 
and so fit? It is from this double conception of security 
and speed that the inner harmony of the bicycle derives 
a profound and indisputable beauty of logic." 1 

The Bois de Boulogne inevitably became the meeting- 
place of all the most fervent adherents of the pedal 
Early in the morning they might be seen circling rapidly 
round the kkes and flying down the alleys. They included 
such people as Jules Lemaitre, Tristan Bernard, Marcel 
Prevost, Henry Bataille, and Octave Mirbeau among the 
literary lights, and men about town and idlers by the 
hundred, all rapturously sitting astride on the little steel 
horses and circling round and round. It was a folly, a 
craze, a mania. But then it was the fashion! 

Some of the more timid learned to ride in private, but 
the great majority .essayed their prowess in broad daylight 
from the first. Always injthe Bois, and generally along 

1 Maurice Ic Mane: Faici dcs Ailes. 


the road that connects the Dauphine and Maillot gates, 
or else in the circular drives which start out from the 
latter. Here might be found a whole school of peripatetic 
professors, all read7 to give lessons and advice for a con- 
sideration. There were even some who would give it 
gratis, especially when a charming female form appeared 
in the distance. 

For the women had fallen for it from the beginning* 
It gave them an excellent opportunity to keep an eye on 
their masculine possessions; they were free of all the 
roads of France. But the question of a suitable costume 
weighed heavily upon them, very literally when they 
essayed to ride in their trailing voluminous skirts. 

If the long skirt could not be accommodated to the 
little flying fairy, very well then, the long skirt must go. 
There were two alternatives: they could wear a shorter 
skirt or come out boldly in the ample breeches which all 
the men who rode had adopted from the beginning. 

This was the turning-point in the evolution of feminine 
dress. The exigencies of modern life, transformed by 
mechanical inventions, had imposed themselves suddenly 
and ruthlessly upon the classic garments of the opposite 
sex. A sartorial tradition was challenged; it was soon to 
be overthrown entirely. 

The first essays in emancipated garments for women 
were not aesthetically successful. It was the general 
opinion that the women in their bicycling breeches lost 
aU their grace and looked dumpy and cut-down. In any 
case, such visions in 1896 provoked, as may be imagined, 
unflattering and indignant comments from several points 
of view. 

From a correspondence of the period to which several 
prominent women were invited to contribute we have 
culled the following: 

Madame Cibberna wrote ironically: 

"It seems that it is exquisite to eat up space, crouched 
over two wheels with your back bent, your arms rigid 
and your eyes so glued to the handle-bars that you dare 
not look at the landscape. It seems that it is divine to 


scorch along the great open roads being successively or 
simultaneously grilled by the sun, suffocated by the 
wind, blinded by the dust and soaked through with 
rain. Apparently nobody who has not experienced 
these defights is qualified to say a word on the subject." 

MadameEdouard Adam almost snorted with indignation-. 

"Bicycling women in breeches* As if there aren't 
enough calves on view any day in the streets of Paris. 
I consider that knee-breeches are worse than immodest: 
they are ridiculous/' 

Mile Wanda de Boneza was quite pontifical: 

"Bicycling is unthinkable as a sport for a woman with 
any pretensions to charm. It is essentially unf eminine." 

Madame Breval said: 

"Only the long skirt with its flowing folds sweeping 
down into harmonious waves can enable us to preserve, 
either in private life or on the stage, a dignified 
appearance before the eyes of men." 

"I am all for breeches," cried, on the contrary, Mile 
Marthe Darthy of the Opera. And Marguerite Deval 
said the same. Yvette Guilbert was also in favour of them, 
while Catulle Mendes sent the following characteristic 
telegram to the symposium: 

"Admire convenient short skirt worn by working 
girls and ladies' maids. Detest abominable zouave's 
trousers which haven't even the excuse of being red." 

The question was never settled and women continued 
to ride the bicycle in whatever costume they liked best. 

But already in 1896 the enthusiasm of the smart world 
had waned. Young people, including young girls, con- 
tinued to ride, but those who prided themselves either 
upon setting or closely following the fashion had already 
given it up. 


There was, however, one admirable and enduring result 
of the bicycling craze. France rediscovered her roads, 
neglected ever since the coming of the railways. This 
discovery caused a complete revolution in French social 
life, and its full effects cannot be appreciated until we 
come to the motor-car era after the World War. But 
those of us who are interested in tracing such things will 
find that the impetus was given when the bicycle first 
kunched its thousands of riders into the French country- 
side. It was the little steel fairy who waved the wand, 
although the transformation scene was not revealed 

For more than thirty years the roads of France had kin 
neglected. Only peasants and country landowners ever 
had any occasion to use them; the bulk of the popuktion 
never set foot thereon. It seemed as though they were 
to lie discarded for ever. 

Then the transformation came. People rediscovered 
the pleasures that their fathers used to know; the attrac- 
tion of roaming round picturesque villages, of visiting 
ancient houses and churches and forgotten corners of 
France, the delights of lunching in little old inns where 
huge fires crackled on open hearths, of drinking thankfully 
in wayside cafes while little fountains spkshed in the 
shelter of ancient trees, of watching the life and movement 
of strange pkces. Once again men tasted the freshness of 
dear morning air, watched the panorama of the changing 
sly and lost themselves in the silence of the woods, for- 
getting time and pkce. Once again they re-learnt the 
ancient order of the road; the covered carts laden with 
produce clanking along to market; the little donkey-carts 
driven by poor old peasants, the local carrier, the doctor, 
also on a bicycle, the flocks of sheep, the stupid geese and 
still more stupid poultry. 

Among all these things which, twenty years kter, we 
see framed through our motor-car windows, the cyclists 
of 1900 moved. They were the first to get back the 
knowledge familiar to the men who had ridden on horse- 
back or stage-coach along the ancient ways of France. 

All those things so enthusiastically acckimed by our 


contemporaries who have just bought a car were fully 
appreciated by Frenchmen, and particularly Parisians, in 
1890 and 1900. Early on fine Sundays they swarmed out 
of Paris in hordes of both sexes, returning in the evening 
dusty and tired on mud-spattered machines, but happy 
and exalted, bearing wild flowers on their handle-bars and 
something of the content bestowed by sunlight and space 
in their eyes. 

The next development was the trial of muscular effort 
and endurance in cycle races. The first of these was 
between Bordeaux and Paris in 1891, and it was organized 
by the Bordeaux Velo Club. We can imagine the excite- 
ment aroused over what then seemed a contest of endurance 
over an incredible distance. It was commonly said that 
nobody could possibly complete the course. At Angou- 
lme, 132 kilometres from the starting-point, beds were 
got ready for the competitors who, after such a gruel- 
ling journey, it was considered, would not be capable of 
anything but collapsing into them. 

When the course was actually completed from begin- 
ning to end people were astounded. There were twenty- 
eight entrants, including five famous English cyclists. 
The winners were carried shoulder-high amid loud 
acclamation and their feat kuded in all the newspapers. 
The latter regaled their readers with full circumstantial 
details of this unparalleled feat seventy-two hours on a 

Other sports rapidly grew in popularity. Rugby foot- 
ball, that image of war, was taken up with enthusiasm by 
the military students, and soon matches were held in the 
public stadia. The most savage of all games, after boxing, 
Rugby nevertheless provides a valuable training in dis- 
cipline and communal effort, for the most heroic of 
individual performances is worth less than solid and 
united teamwork 

Tennis, on the other hand, is essentially elegant. It 
imposes a rigid sartorial etiquette, nobody dares to play 
save in immaculate white flannels and shoes, and the short 
skirts of the women fly like the balls themselves. Every- 
thing is the subject of assiduous cultivation the ground, 


the nets, tlie rackets, the strokes. Certainly it arouses 
enough excitement and enthusiasm but nobody could 
compare this precise, calculated, and individual game with 
the martial onslaught of the Rugby champions. 

The age-old sport of running did not kck adherents 
either. The runners formed clubs, like every one else, 
and had their rules, their publicists, and their fixtures. 
Crowds gathered there, too, to watch the spectacle of 
the competitors, flinging themselves forward with a mag- 
nificent animal impetus as they contended for the five 
miles flat. 

Winter sports had always had their faithful few, but 
these were increasing as rapidly as devotees of every other 
sport. The attraction of Alpine sports lies in their danger; 
you risk your life at every attempt. It demands a level 
head and a sure footing, and it began to exercise a fatally 
seductive attraction on those who had once experienced 
its hazards, an attraction summed up by Paul Hervieu in 
his book The Murderous Alfs. 

Fencing, however, did not enjoy a revival of favour. 
The subtle and civilized art became less and less attractive 
to a century which prided itself upon realism and brutality. 
Boxing, on the contrary, rapidly increased in popularity, 
although twenty years were to pass before Paris really 
went mad about it. 

The revival of the Olympic Games in 1894 gave an 
immense impetus to the sporting mania. It was in the 
great hall of the Sorbonne, before an audience of famous 
athletes, that M. de Coubertin first broached the project 
which, two years kter, materialized into the first of the 
New Olympiads in Athens. Successive meetings were at 
Paris in 1900, at St. Louis in 1904, and in London in 1908. 
For the whole world had caught athletic fever. . 

The paucity of suitable accommodation round about 
Paris for the thousands who wished to participate actively 
led to the multiplication of clubs and associations in such 
pkces as the Bois de Boulogne and Vincennes. Those 
enthusiasts who could not find accommodation there 
could be seen in running shorts and shoes pursuing their 
training in the trenches of the fortifications. 


An entirely specialized sporting Press came into exis- 
tence. Sporting, Le Miroir des Sports, La vie au Grand Air 
and Le Pedale enjoyed immense circulations, and every 
provincial town of any size had its own sporting journal. 
Bordeaux, always a great centre of athletic activity, 
boasted U Athlete and Le Sportsman; Marseilles had Les 
Sports de Provence; Toulouse, Le Midi Sportif; Grenoble, 
Les Alpes Sportives; and so on. From one end to the other 
France was flooded with these highly coloured and freely 
illustrated journals which were eagerly read by enthusi- 
astic youth. Every year was to see their numbers increase, 
and tie end has not yet come. 

And now occurred an event which had been eagerly 
awaited by engineers and others interested in mechanical 
progress, although the public at large was entirely ignorant 
of what was going on behind the scenes. Those who 
followed engineering developments had not forgotten that 
in 1875 a certain inventor named Andre Bollet had 
demonstrated in Paris a steam-driven vehicle called 
UObtissance, which had accomplished a trial of 230 kilo- 
metres with great facility. It had been duly eulogized by 
a reporter in Le Temps as "an admirable invention which, 
owing to the control of the exhaust, made its way rapidly 
in comparative silence, without scaring the horses". 

Three years kter, at the Universal Exhibition, another 
steam carriage by the same inventor accomplished a 
journey from Paris to Vienna. These carriages haid nothing 
to do with the development of the petrol-driven motor- 
car except that they pointed the way by demonstrating 
the possibilities of a fast, light, easily handled and easily 
controlled trackless machine. The steam-driven tricycles 
and quadri-cycles of Dion and Bouton were on the same 

Serpolet's discovery of the steam generator in 1887 was 
a great stage forward and marked the definitive evolution 
of the steam-propelled vehicle. Had the internal com- 
bustion engine not been invented, it would have been a 
motor-car of this type which we should all be using to-day. 


They were heavy and fearsome-looking vehicles with 
funnels shaped like blunderbusses and a boiler protected 
by a strong tank in which the coal was kept, while another 
tank behind carried the water. A contemporary illustra- 
tion shows one of these odd contraptions with a bowler- 
hatted man in front, presumably the driver, and an elegant 
personage in a top-hat, doubtless the chosen passenger, 
sitting behind. 

The invention of the explosive motor and of pneumatic 
tyres and the introduction of motor-spirit turned these 
attempts into other channels and ultimately produced, 
before the eyes of the astounded Parisians, the first motor- 
cars. But the motor-car did not excite national enthusiasm 
as did the bicycle. Then as now, and very much more so, 
the motor-car was costly, and it can never claim to be as 
truly democratic as "the little queen". Is it even a sport? 
Certainly it requires nerve and a minimum of skill, but 
there is absolutely no muscular effort involved. From all 
of which arises the scorn which the race of cyclists tradi- 
tionally displays for the race of motorists, who are still 
referred to as "backside squatters". 

The first motor-cars were frankly hideous, shook their 
passengers violently, rattled their windows and gave out a 
nauseating stench of petrol. They were objects of curiosity 
rather than desire on the part of the general public, who 
regarded them as playthings for crack-brained millionaires 
or similar eccentrics. The idea that he would one day 
exchange his smart coupe and high-stepping pair for such 
a contrivance would have brought a smile to the lips of 
the most perspicacious Parisian. 

But gradually they grew out of the stage of being more 
or less ridiculous mechanical novelties and began to attract 
serious attention. A great automobile race between Paris 
and Marseilles on October 4th 1896 marks the real 
commencement of the motor-car era. 

"The winning cars" (says a witness) "were expected 
in Paris round about 1 1 or 12 o'clock. From ten o'clock 
onwards a crowd began to form outside Gillet's restau- 
rant and all along the Boulevard Maillot. It grew so 


dense tliat it was almost impossible to get through, and 
then, at eighteen minutes past twelve, cheers and shouts 
from afar off announced the first arrival, the motor- 
tricycle Dion No. 1 5 driven by Collomb. It is impossible 
to describe the wild enthusiasm with which the crowd 
surged forward, while a charming young girl presented 
the hero with an enormous bouquet. 

"The vehicle seemed to be in excellent condition, 
although it had just accomplished more than 1,800 
kilometres in the record time of 73 hours 46 minutes. 
Collomb, however, was so thickly coated with dust as 
to be almost unrecognizable, and his clothes were spat- 
tered with mud and oil. One of the reporters who had 
followed him from Versailles said that it was awe- 
inspiring to watch him tear down a slope at a speed of 
sixty m3es an hour. 

"Three minutes kter came Car No. 6, a Panhard 
and Levasseur driven by M. Rene de Knyff, who made 
his appearance amid frenzied applause. He arrived at 
twenty-one minutes and forty seconds past twelve. 

"All the cars were afterwards taken to the Pakce of 
Industry and exhibited before the crowds who passed 
in front of them all day long, pointing out details of the 
works and giving their opinion of the trials. This race, 
which effectively demonstrated the advantages of petrol 
over steam, will prove to be a landmark in the wider 
development of the motor-car." 

The witness proved to be a true prophet. Other and 
more arduous trials f ollowed in succession, Paris-Madrid, 
Paris-Berlin, and so on, and in each the vehicle showed 
progressive improvement. 

This is the mythical period of motor-car history when 
the drivers appear like epic heroes and their machines as 
legendary mechanical monsters. 

Everybody was eager to see these palpitating fireballs 
that leapt into space; everybody wanted to come near 
them, to examine them, to gaze at the beings who con- 
trolled such phenomena. Already the motor-car appeared 
as the symbol of force and action. Gradually it grew to 


inspire an almost religious respect, and to the young men 
of the decade 1900 to 1910 it was the materialization of 
their secret dreams. The desire to possess one haunted 
their lives. 

The more practical English viewed it from another 
angle. "The horse," said Rudyard Kipling, "after all is 
only a horse, but the motor-car is a time machine/ 5 Speed 
was its primary attraction, the one which, as it came into 
more general use, was to prove its greatest lure for the 
public. To be able to go from one place to another at 
will and without effort, what a delightful miracle. All 
that they had recovered with such incredible zest with 
the first popularity of the bicycle was brought before 
them again, but larger, grander, and more varied some- 
how. Roads, landscapes, villages, churches, cathedrals, 
mountains and sea were all offered gratuitously to the 
motorist; he could select whatever he wished or he could 
have the whole lot, following any and every whim in the 
first intoxication of utter and complete mobility. 

Any one who wants to recapture all that these things 
meant in 1900 should read Octave Mirbeau's 626 E. 8. It 
is a paean of thanksgiving to the motor-car, to its inventors, 
and to the unprecedented freedom conferred upon men. 
It is hailed as multiplying his joys and his sensibility, as 
making him free of the pageant of life. 

"My car 5 ' (says the author) "is dearer, more service- 
able and more instructive to me than all the books in 
my library, than all the pictures glued to my walls, 
displaying day by day the same dead images of trees, 
fountains and sHes. My car can give me all these, and 
they are alive, quivering, swarming, changing, dizzy, 
illimitable and infinite. ... I can contemplate with- 
out a tremor the dispersion of my books, my pictures, 
and all my collection, but I cannot bear the thought 
that a day may come when I shall no longer possess my 
magic charger, this fabulous unicorn that bears me so 
gently and swiftly, with a clearer and a keener brain, 
across the whole map of nature's beauties, the richness 
and diversity of the human scene." 


Entirely without effort the artist in his ecstasy found 
all the phrases which creak on the pens of assiduous 
publicity men twenty years later. 

What can be said of the aeroplane in this brief review 
of sport, athletics, and similar things in the years preceding 
the World War? A very great deal if we were considering 
the conquest of nature by man, but little enough in the 
connection which alone interests us in these pages. We 
are not yet air-minded. 

In 1935, despite the gigantic strides we have made from 
the days of Bleriot and Wilbur Wright, the aeroplane has 
nevertheless not yet, in France at least, made the slightest 
difference to our way of living. To-morrow, perhaps, we 
may suppose, if it pleases us, that flying will be as common 
as motoring or travelling by train, but to-day the aero- 
plane remains on the margin of ordinary everyday life. 
It has not yet sufficiently emancipated itself from the 
realm of acrobatics to be admitted as a regular means of 
public transport. As a sport it is costly, more complicated 
than motoring, and offers nothing like the same variety of 
interest. As a method of collective transport there may 
be a future for aviation: as an individual vehicle, we cannot 
think that it has very much. 

But nevertheless the realization of the age-old dream 
of the mechanical bird has had a profound effect on the 
imaginations, if not upon the lives and habits, of those 
who have seen the miracle come to pass. It is a formidable 
discovery, because it has overwhelmed mankind with the 
revelation of the infinite powers of science, and from this 
point of view it must not be passed over in silence. 

It was in 1905 that a journalist, M. Robert Coquette, 
went to Ohio to interview the brothers Wright, and 
informed the astounded French readers of UAuto that 
the aeroplane was a fact. A little while afterwards, 
Fordyce in Le Journal gave further particulars, and soon 
the brothers Wright arrived in France and carried out 
their preliminary flights from their aerodrome at Auvours. 
On July 25th 1909 Bleriot crossed the Channel on his 


monoplane, and later in the same year the Comte de 
Lambert accomplished a no less remarkable flight from 
Juvisy to Paris and back. The flights of Paulhan, Farman, 
and the rest of the pioneers have now become classic, not 
only as exploits but as acts of faith. 

The first massed flight of aeroplanes out of Paris gave 
an inkling of the peculiar quality of the public interest 
aroused. It was the first public display, and the en- 
circling fortifications of the city provided a natural 
vantage-point from which the crowd could follow the 

"The usual scenes had been anticipated 5 ' (says M. 
Georges Rozet); "a hilarious, noisy and slightly drunken 
crowd singing and making merry all night. Nothing 
of the kind took place. Gravely and solemnly, as though 
awe-stricken by the spectacle of the machines circling 
over Paris which they had seen the night before, the 
crowd made its way to the flying-ground. Certainly 
they carried baskets of provisions, with probably a bottle 
or two tucked away somewhere, but there was none of 
the high spirits and chaffing usually associated with a 
mass exodus from the city. The people seemed to have 
been drawn almost involuntarily from their beds, 
impelled by a sense of duty, to issue, as it were, an en- 
couraging bulletin to French invention and enterprise. 

"From the first takings-off, punctual to the minute, 
into an horizon of lurking ambush and mystery, the 
crowd of pilgrims waited with almost religious intensity. 
Certainly there were cries and cheers, but not the 
sentimental and meaningless shouts that we know so 
well. We were astonished to find such a crowd dis- 
playing judgement and control, as though the sense of 
scientific curiosity dominated even the novelty and 
excitement of the occasion." 

Georges Rozet noted particularly among the younger 
spectators a considered and understanding admiration, 
assessed by eyes already trained to discover mechanical 
beauties by the motor-car and the bicycle: 


"It was envy rather than stupefaction or fear which 
seemed to fill those youthful breasts as they watched 
the exploits of the aviators." 

The attraction of danger and of difficulties overcome, 
the passion for science and the intoxication of triumph 
composed the extraordinary state of mind in which the 
race of men watched the opening stages of the conquest of 
the air. 



TWO things stand out in the life of Paris from the year 
1900 down to the outbreak of the war. The first is 
the great and ever-growing influence of the theatre; the 
second, the peculiar artistic hegemony which music suc- 
ceeded in arrogating to itself. Of these two phenomena 
the former is the more striking and far-reaching. 

It has been observed already that the French stage did 
not show itself in the vanguard of the naturalist move- 
ment. The school of Zola met with many reverses on the 
boards before Antoine succeeded in making its offerings 
fashionable. But by 1900 the battle had been won with 
a vengeance. The old tradition was riddled from top to 
bottom, and such realistic writers as Brieux, Curel and 
Emile Fabre, followed later by the younger men, Paul 
Hervieu, Bernstein, Bataille, and Capus, were the names 
with which to conjure large and fashionable audiences. 

It is not our function here to criticize the work of these 
men in detail. At the very lowest estimate, they suc- 
ceeded collectively in producing one of the most brilliant 
eras in the history of the Parisian stage. What concerns 
us rather is to examine their position in contemporary 
social life and to assess the influence of their personalities 
and ideas upon public morals, manners, and taste. 

Parisians have always been fond of the theatre, but 
never so much as in the period here under review. The 
life of the stage had then a very real rektion to the life 
of the world at large, and this particular school of drama- 
tists enjoyed a prestige and a following probably unequalled 
either before or since* 

It was not merely that Parisians flocked to the box- 
office in unprecedented numbers, but that there was 
immense public excitement and curiosity about every- 
thing connected with the stage. An author who wrote a 
successful pky became not merely a lion in a certain more 
or less restricted set; he sprang at once on to the topmost 



rung of public characters. His work, and the quarrels and 
scandals so often connected with it, were a universal topic 
of discussion. The men and women who interpreted his 
characters were equally in the limelight; their talent, their 
morals, their manners, and their private lives were all 
exhaustively described, illustrated, written up, and talked 
about everywhere. The theatre was the new cult and the 
whole of Paris a vast, gossiping green-room. 

The announcement of a new piece by a successful 
dramatist was almost a matter of national importance, 
and any changes or reputed trouble with the cast a public 
calamity. The whole population lived through the days 
of alarms and excursions which invariably precede theatre 
first-nights under a tension which can hardly be described. 
The rfyttition gh&raU brought this excitement to fever 
pitch. Given before what was supposed to be an august 
and distinguished audience, these rehearsals became a 
kind of religious ceremony with full ritual and attendant 
hierophants, and the secret ambition of every young 
Parisian was to become one of this select and hallowed band. 

The fashionable painters, who had once imposed their 
taste and their houses in the Pare Monceau on the great 
world under the Marshal, were now completely eclipsed. 
The novelists, who had had their hour of triumph with 
Zola, and later on with the enormous vogue of Bourget's 
psychological studies, were also utterly outclassed. Noth- 
ing either past or present can be compared with the fever 
of excitement which surrounded everything connected 
with the theatre at this time save, perhaps, the exaggerated 
hero-worship which the younger generation to-day accords 
certain figures in the worlds of the cinema and sport. 

The combined talents of all the French dramatists of 
the generation would not by themselves have provoked 
such a state of affairs had it not been for other factors. 

The first of these was money. Thanks to their native 
shrewdness and their organization the descendants of 
Beaumarchais were easily the most highly paid of all the 
brotherhood of the pen. A successful piece brought its 
author a small fortune. The theatre became an industry, 
a factory working full time, and it yielded immense 


profits to everybody connected with it. The power of 
money to draw the admiration of the crowd and the 
respect (not unmixed with jealousy) of rivals, has never 
been more strikingly demonstrated. 

Another extraneous factor from which the theatre 
profited was the slowing down of the round of social 
engagements. Formal receptions and balls went out of 
fashion, for only a very few of the extremely rich had 
escaped a shrinkage of income which inevitably reduced 
the scale of entertainment. Dancing was definitely out 
of fashion; people were weary of the interminable balls of 
yester-year. The love of pleasure had certainly not 
lessened, but conceptions of pleasure had quite definitely 
changed. The movement into the open air, increased 
mobility and the craze for sport, were all factors which 
influenced people to look for amusement outside their 
own homes. 

The theatre exactly met the need of the moment. It 
was a communal pleasure which took people away from 
their domestic surroundings, and it permitted a display 
of elegance and culture without any of the trouble and 
expense involved in krge receptions and formal enter- 

Jewish society, which has always been devoted to the 
theatre, also lent its weight to the scale. The Jews were 
wealthy; they were financially interested in most of the 
theatrical ventures, and their backing had helped a great 
many actors and actresses to success. They had suc- 
ceeded in creating publicity for all the incidents and 
personalities connected with the life of the stage, and they 
had also managed to invest the theatre with that peculiar 
intellectual and social snobbery which we shall find again 
when we come to consider the growing popularity of 
music. So far as the theatre was concerned, however, 
their task was an easy one, for Parisians have always been 
the most assiduous, acute, and appreciative of audiences. 

There was then, as we have said, a real relation between 
the life portrayed behind the footlights and the life and 
manners of the audience. The dramatic formula of the 
period was the reflection of life. Such pkys as fimile 


Fabre's, dealing with the actual social problems raised by 
the democratization of society, might almost be said, for 
the first time since antiquity, to employ the crowd as 
actors, so closely interwoven were the themes with the 
reactions of the spectators. The plays of Paul Hervieu 
and Jules Lemaitre were concerned with the moral and 
psychological problems of the moment, while those of 
Bernstein and Mirbeau were actual personal experiences, 
thinly disguised but violently overstated or savagely 
satirized. Their ferocity and bitterness, and their rather 
overweening strength, are all the claw-marks of a century 
of ferment and strife. 

Since we desire a world in our own image it is natural 
that the protagonists of these plays were applauded, 
admired, and, most particularly, imitated. Every would-be 
lover or ladies* manyearned to discover inhimself the seduc- 
tive traits of Lucien Guitry, whose personality dominated 
the stage of the time. His role was the lover who had passed 
his first youth, for he was fifty at least, but he had a 
magnificent presence. Mature dandies took heart of grace 
as they looked on hitr^ for no more would fair listeners 
receive their proposals with astonishment or ridicule, 
while the younger men, intimidated by the formidable 
conquests of experience, would retire from the field. 
Right down to the outbreak of war, which saw the 
triumphant return of youth to the sovereignty of love 
and marriage, the lover had to be middle-aged at least to 
be smart. 

There was also Andre Brule, supple, insinuating, with 
a smile at once suave and sinister, and a certain disturbing 
charm. He was the prototype of the gigolo, the first 
mould from which thousands have since been patterned. 

And there was Max Dearly, anglicized in traits as in 
name, agile as a clown, inarticulate as a ballerina, the man 
whose fantastic humour set the whole house in an uproar 
as soon as he appeared on the stage. Is he not a type com- 
mon among us to-day, cynical, taciturn, unaccountable, 
not quite sure of himself? 

Then there was de Max. Somewhat pretentious, per- 
haps, his voice a little too musical, his gestures a little too 


flowery; but how often have we seen him among the 
intelligentsia forgathering at the Odeon or in and out of 
the Mercure He France! 

The women were equally imposing. Bernhardt, Rejane, 
and Bartet still held sway, but the younger generation was 
coming to the fore. Marthe Brandes, sumptuous, pas- 
sionate and sensitive, is the link which unites the amour euse 
type of yesterday with that of Berthe Bady, Simone (then 
Madame Le Bargy), Suzanne Despres, and Eve Lavalliere. 

Berthe Bady and Simone were a piquant contrast, the 
realized dreams of two dramatists of opposing tastes. 
Simone, the Bernstein heroine, was the woman whose 
actions were directed to a single end, which she pursued 
with all her force; Bady, the incarnation of Bataille's 
women, seeing things not as they are but as her imagina- 
tion transforms them. Simone, dominating, insatiable, 
almost masculine in her passions; Bady, sensitive, fleeting 
and exalted. Which of these types appealed most to 
people then? They were admirably complementary, in 
fact, but Simone brought in the more strident modern note. 

Suzanne Despres, melancholy and uneasy, consumed by 
an inner fire which could not yet destroy her earthly 
passions, was the ideal Ibsen heroine. She gave out a 
secret illumination, investing every word and act with an 
extra significance. 

And lastly there was Eve Lavalliere. 1 If her type was 
as old as humanity the mould in which it was cast was 
signed and dated of the period. She was the plaything 
of the hour and everybody adored her. Paris would not 
be Paris without some one like this, and there has never 
been any one more enchanting. 

But the historic institutions of the French stage did not 
fare so well in this period of excitement and enthusiasm. 
A generation which found them old-fashioned was in- 
clined to give them the cold shoulder. The Comedie 
Fran9aise was no longer the only place where society and 
the stage met on an equal footing; the great days when 

1 She retired into a convent just before the war and died in 1933. 


the Due d'Aumale and the Prince de Sagaa had for- 
gathered there were past. A few old patrons still came to 
chat with Le Bargy and Madam Pierson, but the life had 
gone out of the place. 

The Opera fared a little better, for since the Republic 
had become more certain of its footing politicians felt they 
could afford a little diversion. Arthur Meyer was still to 
be found there, fingering his whiskers and staring at you 
with his blank, unseeing gaze, and Forain still remained 
faithful to the pkce where he had sat so often with Degas 
and Toulouse Lautrec. 

At that time everything and everybody had a nickname. 
Nobody knew who bestowed them; like most of the best 
epigrams, they were anonymous. Some were attributed 
to Tristan Bernard, others to Lucien Guitry, but most 
of them were born in the Opera foyer and whispered from 
mouth to mouth all over Paris. 

The Director of the Opera was called the Procurator 
to the Republic on account of the numerous liaisons 
between politicians and dancers. 

When Clemenceau, despite his anti-clericalism, went 
into a convent hospital for an operation to the prostate 
gland, he was promptly drubbed Julien le Prostate. 

A literary charmer with a taste for publicity was 
Madame Reclaimer. 

The artist Helleu, celebrated for the rapidity with 
which he dashed off his fashionable etchings and crayon 
drawings, was Le Watteau a Vapeur. 

Eugene Brieirx, who had dared to treat the forbidden 
subject of venereal disease in a play, became Le Mercure 
de France. 

Lucien Gtdtiy*s theatre was a great forcing-house for 
these shafts of malice. Between 1902 and 1909, the period 
during which it was under the great comedian's direction, 
the Theatre de la Renaissance was the centre of Parisian 
social life. A close rival was the Varietes, under the 
management of Samuel, whose famous troupe included 
such diverse talent as Max Dearly, Jeanne Granier, Eve 
Lavalliere, and Mistinguett. 

The Porte St. Martin could not claim such dazzling 


eminence, but its production of Cyrano de Eergerac gave 
it a position of its own, for Rostand was a characteristic 
figure of this period of Parisian society, and the play was 
so popular that every detail concerning him was of 
immense interest to the public. 

His play UAiglon, written round the Due de Reichstad, 
son of Napoleon and his Austrian consort Marie Louise, 
enhanced his reputation, and incidentally that of Sarah 
Bernhardt, who was in the title role; but the piece which 
he expected would be his chef-d* ceuvre and win him im- 
mortality was Cbanteder, produced in 1910. Never before 
had a play been given so much publicity, not only because 
Rostand was its author, but because it constituted a new 
and daring conception, a sensational innovation, one might 
say, of the dramatic art. To make a cock, a dog, a black- 
bird, and a pheasant express the poet's ideas of the joy in 
work and in being humbly useful was an amazing departure 
from recognized stagecraft, and no wonder columns of 
picturesque description of the play were published in 
the newspapers weeks before the $remiere, no wonder 
Chanteckr was the talk of Paris, London, and other 
European capitals, not to speak of New York. Here was a 
case of excessive booming doing harm to a play instead 
of furthering its success. 

Undoubtedly the playwright of the moment, Rostand, 
had put his whole faith in this lyrical farmyard drama. A 
cruel disillusionment awaited him. Chanteder was ap- 
plauded, but the auditors were disconcerted on hearing 
the high and noble conceptions of a poet interpreted by 
denizens of the farmyard, and the result was only a half 
success, and barely that. Rostand was wounded in his 
sensibilities. He had written a beautiful lyric poem, not, 
as he had fondly imagined, a play which would keep his 
fame alive for all time. He never got over his disappoint- 
ment, and during the nine years of life which yet remained 
to him he wrote only a few poems, none of which added 
much lustre to his reputation. 

The taste for "intimate 59 theatres was first kunched by 
the inauguration of the Theatre des Capucines, with its 
minute stage no larger than a private drawing-room, 


where every line came straight across the footlights and 
the actors and the audience seemed almost one. The 
success of the Capucines stimulated the building of 
numerous other theatres of the same type. Femina, Les 
Mathurins, and, later on, La Potiniere, the Theatre de 
P Avenue, and the Theatre Daunou. As the stage became 
more and more straitened, the plays had perforce to follow 
suit, and casts of three and four characters only became 
the rule for the fashionable play of the period. 

One of these little theatres, the Grand Guignol, deserves 
special attention, as it has given its name to a certain type 
of entertainment all over the world. Originating at the 
height of the naturalist movement, its claim, which it 
abundantly fulfilled, was to give the public a series of 
brief spectacles in which the extremes of horror and farce 
alternately should be portrayed. This hot and cold 
shower was cunningly turned on by talented actors to a 
bored and satiated audience which could only be aroused 
by the most brutal stimuli. 

Another contemporary fad was the public lecture, which 
passed away an agreeable hour of the day for a restless 
public always in search of some new, unexacting, and brief 
diversion. The lectures were short and pleasant; they 
made a pretence at being educative while providing, in 
their accompanying songs and music, a theatrical show in 
miniature. And when, as so often, the lecturer was a 
favourite novelist or dramatist, the audience had the 
additional thrill of seeing a public hero in the flesh and 
drinking in his words as they were spoken. 

The music hall, which, although it was not to attain its 
greatest popularity until after the war, first began to take 
the shape we know to-day during the years 1900 and 1914. 
The Folies-Bergeres, the Olympia, and, later on, the 
Moulin Rouge, began to ascend that mounting curve of 
spectacles, more and more lavish, more and more extensive 
and more and more undressed. A mixture of the cafe 
concert, the circus, the operetta, and the pantomime, the 
music hall takes some ingredients from all these while 
actually resembling none of them. It is devised for over- 
worked digestions and underworked intelligences, for 


foreigners, shop-assistants on the spree, and little ladies on 
the make. It is only fair to add that the sumptuousness 
and sometimes even the artistry of its costumes, its 
dazzling lights and ingenious settings, and the sheer 
physical beauty of so many of its enormous cast, make a 
certain appeal to more critical spectators. 

The first revues were modest attempts, but they grew 
rapidly to a pitch of splendour which for those days was 
unparalleled. The star was usually a woman. Liane de 
Pougy appeared before 1900 in VAnaignee d'Or at the 
Folies-Bergeres, followed successively by Le Reve de Noel, 
La Princesse au Sabbat, and La Belle aux Cheveux d'Or. 

About this time Loie Fuller introduced her serpentine 
dances, and first Paris and then the whole world went into 
raptures over them. 

"It is more than a dance" (said Jean Lorrain) "it is a 
revelation of light, an evocation from the other world. 
It is a mystery. Fkmes of light and shadow rise up and 
die down, sometimes climbing in spirals, sometimes 
fluttering like wings, then swirling out wide in gigantic 
scrolls until at last, out of this whirl of flowing, vaporous 
light, a woman's bust emerges, the arms and shoulders 
gleaming delicately white among the petals of a giant 
violet or in the hollow of an enormous butterfly's rain- 
bow coloured wings." 

The popularity of the music hall really dates from the 
time when Paris flocked to see this whirlwind of flame and 
gauze, the sorceress who described her art as "sculpture in 
Hght". It had at least one of the essentials of genuine art. 
It compelled the beholders to use their imaginations. 

A little later on the "cake walk", prelude to so many 
bizarre and extravagant dances, became the rage. It was 
introduced by M. Gabriel Astruc, who had seen it danced 
by negroes in America, and it immediately achieved the 
success he had foreseen for it. 

June 25th 1907 is a date of importance in the annals of 
music-hall entertainment since it saw the first appearance 
of the Paris apache as a theatrical hero. On that date Max 


Dearly and Mistinguett danced their famous False 
Chakupte for the first time in La Revue de la Ftmme. 

The origin of the dance is not without interest. Some 
years before Max Dearly and a party of friends had gone, 
out of curiosity, to a dance hall in a low quarter of the 
town. The orchestra consisted of a piano, a clarinet, a 
cornet, and a drum, and to its harsh, unmelodic strains 
couples of very dubious respectability swayed and clung 
together in a peculiar dance which excited the actor's 
interest by its original character and rhythm, savage and 
caressing by turns. He took a note of it, worked at it 
intermittently, perfecting the rhythm and improving the 
steps, and finally proposed to Samuel, the manager of 
the Varietes, to introduce it there. Samuel thought that 
it would shock his patrons, and declined, but when, the 
summer following, Max Dearly went to the Moulin Rouge 
to partner Mistinguett, they decided to try it out. 

how, from that time down to the present, there has been 
a veritable plague of apache dancers. 

The music-hall stage had by then begun to combine a 
number of diverse attractions. 

There was that extraordinary gnome, Little Tich; there 
was Fregoli, at once singer, clown, dancer, quick-change 
artist, and comedian. And there was still Yvette Gull- 
bert, singing old French songs with incomparable artistry. 
The audiences kughed with Mayol, shuddered with 
Severin, and discovered with appreciation the charm and 
ability of the troops of English dancing girls. It was the 
day of new rhythms, the harsh strains of the False 
Chaloupie, the seductive waltzes of Vienna and the jingles 
from The BeTU of New Tork. 

The music h^U had already become a vast international 
factory for the mass production of pleasure. Every season 
its impresarios combed the earth and racked fantasy to 
produce more and more sumptuous spectacles, colossal 
casts, dazzling costumes, and original sensations for an 
audience which grew ever larger, more exacting, and 
more insatiable. 


We have now to consider a much more pretentious sub- 
ject the immense growth of the general appreciation of 
classical music during the ten years prior to 1914. The 
least that can be said of it was that it was wholly startling 
and unprecedented. Parisians, although they love to hum 
the latest tune and have always been devoted to light 
operetta, have very little natural taste for classical music, 
and, save for a select few, they had seldom risen above 
Gounod's Faust and Massenet. For twenty years they 
had shut their ears to Cesar Franck and had utterly 
ignored Beethoven. During the Second Empire, and even 
during the first years of the Third Republic, it was quite 
impossible for Wagner to get a hearing at all. M. Rene 
Dumesnil, in his valuable and informative book Le Monde 
des Musiciens, recalls an amusing instance of an audience 
which conscientiously hissed the overture to Dtr Frei- 
schutz in the belief that it was listening to the funeral 
march from G otter dammerung. But in due course 
intellectual snobbery produced a Wagnerian cult among 
the young intellectuals, and in 1885 Edouard Duaardin 
founded La Revue Wagnerienne^ whose contributors 
included Mendes, Peladan, Villiers de PIsle Adam, 
Mallarme, and Verlaine. 

These enthusiasts went to Bayreuth regularly as on a 
pilgrimage. Year by year their numbers increased until 
they were considerable enough not, certainly, to impose 
their idol on the public but at least to guarantee him a 
measure of applause on the Tare occasions when any one 
dared to put him into a programme. 

When in 1888 it was announced that Lamoureuz pro- 
posed to produce Lohengrin, the public was up in arms, 
although triumph and hope reigned in the Wagnerian 
camp. On the eve of the production Le Ttmps published 
an interview with Alphonse Daudet in which that vener- 
ated writer affirmed his love and enthusiasm for the great 
musician. But the eye of Deroulede was on the watch. 
"While I live," said he, "there shall be no German music 
heard in Paris." He called up his Leaguers and posted 
them all round the theatre, to hiss and abuse and even to 
intercept those who were hardy enough to try to go in. 


But in spite of Deroulede, inside the theatre a large 
nnmber of students and musical people, including Leon 
Daudet, applauded to the echo, and the first real hearing 
of Wagner's music made an instantaneous conquest among 
the ttite of Paris. Soon ^ht Ride of the Valkyries began 
to creep regularly into conceit programmes, and finally 
the great music-dramas were staged. The men to whose 
enterprise and persistence is due the credit for this are 
Pasdebup and Edouard Colonne, the latter of whom 
installed himself at the Chatelet where he remained for 
nearly half a century. 

The Colonne Sunday Concerts at the CMtelet were a 
typical facet of the life of the period. Under the domi- 
nating baton of a romantic conductor passionately devoted 
to his work, the marvellous orchestra flooded the great 
hall with vibrating waves of sound, unloosing the chords 
of Berlioz and Wagner and Cesar Franck in an almost 
religious atmosphere, where hundreds of people sat in 
tranced communion with genius. The vast assembly 
thrilled and responded as one entity. But the most 
moving spectacle of all was to be found in the cheap seats 
at the back of the house, where, for the price of a franc, 
a crowd of poor students, school-teachers, long-haired 
poets, and earnest little clerks sat huddled together on 
hard backless benches, with dust and refuse all round them, 
some so dizzily high that they could scarcely bear to look 
down. For the privilege of sitting in this abominable 
place they had waited long hours in a queue, climbed on 
tired legs up innumerable stairs, and very possibly gone 
without lunch or dinner. But nothing could affect their 
enthusiasm as they sat content in the shadow solaced by 
their spiritual food. 

Other famous concerts of the period were those at the 
Conservatoire and those given by Lamoureux at the Cirque 
d'Ete. Chamber concerts were too numerous to be cited. 

Well, one gets accustomed to all noises at a price, as the 
poet said] 

One of the most interesting of the musical pioneers 
was Count Isaac de Camondo. He was the founder of the 
Societe des Artistes et Amis de 1'Opera, and a sleeping 


partner in almost every musical enterprise of the period. 
Without his financial support such novelties as Louise and 
PdUas would have petered out after four or five per- 
formances, if, indeed, they had ever succeeded in getting 
put on at all. 

He had chosen to live at the very doorway of the 
theatre, in a large building where he had three suites of 
rooms to house his magnificent collection of pictures by 
Fragonard, Forain, Monet, Degas, Cezanne, and Boucher, 
not forgetting the famous Falconnet clock. 

"The dining-room" (says M. Garbiel Astruc) "was, 
like the drawing-room, a veritable picture-gallery. 
After a gkss of the velvety wine of Samos we ate eggs 
cooked in the Oriental fashion in burning oil for 48 
hours, then a turbot simmered down almost to a jelly. 
These masterpieces of the culinary art, worthy comple- 
ments to those other masterpieces which hung upon 
the walls, were prepared by a renowned Turkish chef 
who had been with the Camondo family for thirty years/* 

This Lucullus turned Maecenas of music was to find 
in M. Astruc the man who made a good many of his 
dreams come true. M. Astruc was able, energetic, a 
first-class organizer, and a man who knew his Parisians 
perfectly. In his delightful reminiscences, Le Pavilion 
it Fantomes, he tells us how, with the financial assistance 
of Jamondo, he started in 1904 the Pavilion de Hanovre 
as headquarters of the musical society they had just 
founded. The pkce was to become a sort of club for all 
the chief figures of the musical world musicians, singers, 
composers, and enthusiasts. 

Kiowing the foibles of Parisian society as he did, M. 
Astruc realized that the only way to make music popular 
was to make it fashionable, to launch it under the aus- 
pices of those men and women who set the tone. His idea 
was to synchronize the musical season with the Paris social 
season, which lasts from May till the end of June, and to 
endeavour to make all the great social functions and 
private parties occasions for introducing some musical 


"Twenty or thirty drawing-rooms were thrown open 
eagerly awaiting the arrival of the transatlantic boats or 
the Orient Express with their freight of foreign stars: 
Sdma Kurz, Emmy Destinn, Farrar, Chaliapine, Titto 
Ruffo, etc. All of them were 'booked up* months 
ahead and had hardly an hour at their disposal. Host- 
esses vied with each other in securing the first appear- 
ance of this or that celebrated singer prior to the public 
debut. On one of these occasions, when Massenet had 
consented to accompany Geraldine Farrar, the hostess, 
Princess Murat, could not succeed in obtaining the 
silence of her guests. Finally Massenet, red as a cock's 
comb with anger, brought down the lid of the grand 
piano with a loud slam, like Jules Jouy imitating the 
drop of the guillotine at the Chat Noir. This sudden 
bomb succeeded in quieting the rabble. 

"At a reception by Madame Forges, the Austrian 
Ambassador honoured the appearance of his fellow- 
countrywoman, Selma Kurz, whose dazzling technique 
astounded her hearers in Lakmt. Arthur Rubinstein 
accompanied Emmy Destinn in Butterfly at the 
Baroness Gustave de Rothschild's, and in the garden of 
Madame Maurice Ephrusi's house in the Avenue du 
Bois, Pavlova with twenty tarlataned nymphs danced 
Chopin's Nocturnes in authentic moonlight. Princess 
Murat's garden, or park, to be exact, was transformed 
on these summer nights to a lamp-hung forest with the 
orchestra in the shadows, while in an open-air theatre 
off the Faubourg Saint-Honore, Madame Henri de 
Rothschild recreated for us the ballets of Lully and 
Rameau. . . ," 

Thanks to such activities as these, public musical per- 
formances became ever more numerous and popular. 
There were musical galas in the Galerie des Glaces at 
Versailles; a Faust gala, where Gonnod, Berlioz, and 
Schumann were all included; a performance of Carmen 
at the Opera, for which Daniel le Pradire recruited teams 
of white mules, resplendent shawls, and authentic toreador 
costumes from Spain. There was the perfomance of 


Strauss's Salome, the first appearance of Caruso at the 
Theatre Sarah Bernhardt, his triumphs kter on at the 
Chatelet, and the sensational productions of The Martyr- 
dom of Saint Sebastian and Htfene de Sparte. A galaxy 
of glittering nights, increasing in number and splendour 
as the world marched on to the brink of war. 

But, perhaps, the crowning achievement of the inde- 
fatigable M. d'Astruc was the discovery of Diaghilev and 
the Russian Ballet, which has left its mark so indelibly 
upon the stage of the world. Their first appearance was 
at the Chatelet in 1909. 

The first programme combined opera and ballet. Be- 
fore the stupefied and entranced audience appeared 
Rimsky-KorsakofFs Ivan le Terrible, Glinka's Rustan and 
Ludmilla, Tcherepine's Pavilion d'Armide, and Ida 
Rubinstein in CUopdtre, wearing a blue wig and with her 
body almost encrusted with "diamonds and rubies. Later 
on came Severer azade, Carnaval, Petrouchka, and UAfrk- 
midi d'un Faune and crowds came to gaze at Karsavina 
as their fathers had looked at Grisi and Taglioni. 

We have passed through so much since those far-away 
nights that they seem to have taken on something of the 
quality of historic occasions. We remember the amaze- 
ment, the excitement, and the admiration that surged in 
our breasts. It seemed as though a new world was being 
charted before us, an immense force released by whose 
impetus we were all caught up. Long before the Russian 
Revolution came to destroy more than we can yet assess 
of the world that once we knew, there in the Sacre de 
Printemps was prefigured its essence, a complete over- 
throw of the classic conceptions which had hitherto held 

Already its strange influence was showing in a hundred 
directions in art, in costume, in interior decoration and 
furnishing, and in theatre-craft and production. The 
debauch of primitive colour, and unrestrained passion 
which these spectacles displayed have had ramifications 
whose extent we are only just now able to trace. Once 
more in the history of the West the seductive Orient had 
broken into a grey and formal regime and convulsed it 


entirely. The Russian Ballet is on any account an impor- 
tant force in tlie history of aesthetics. 

But to return to our period. No sooner was the Russian 
Ballet introduced than M. d'Astruc turned his attention 
to another project, which was to endow Paris with a 
perpetual Temple of Music. 

In 1913 the Theatre des Champs Elysees was opened 
with a pomp, ceremony, and public excitement only 
paralleled in the history of the Third Republic by the 
state opening of the new Opera under Marshal Mac- 

The new theatre encountered grave financial difficulties 
from the outset and also sustained a barrage of opposition 
from all the more conservative spirits by whom the Opera 
was regarded as the apotheosis of appropriate decoration 
and fitness for the purpose. For the new house, designed 
by the brothers Perret, was the direct antithesis of the 
older: a vast interior void of columns and distracting 
ornaments, chastely decorated so as to display its ad- 
mirable proportions, and designed primarily to give perfect 
acoustics. It had an immense but not a disproportionate 
stage, and every detail had been taken into careful con- 
sideration, right down to the purple hangings of the boxes, 
designed to show up the women's dresses. 

There was a triumphal first night. 

"Motor-cars drew up with a flourish before the en- 
trance, one after another 55 (says the proud founder), 
"and the projectors on the Eiffel Tower threw a stream 
of light on to the white marble fa9ade, displaying the 
detaBs of Bourdelle's frieze of Apollo and the Muses. 

"When they first came into the theatre the audience 
seemed dazed and a little stupefied. Presently they 
recovered and began to examine the interior with 
curiosity. Some sneered and others exclaimed, but 
most people waited for their neighbours to give them a 
lead. The words 'Munich* and 'German neo-dassic 5 
were freely bandied around. 

"Time has long since laid its patina on the walls, the 
colour, and the gilding, and the absurd legend is dead. 


We had the women to thank for this in the first place 
Abel Faivre understood them very well and he had pro- 
vided just the sort of setting which would make them 
exclaim, 'What a delightful interior, so sympathetic ' 
and, *You can see and be seen everywhere}? The 
light and charming colour scheme radiated feminine 
elegance, and in the interval subscribers could leave 
their places and promenade in the atrium, or hold 
receptions in their boxes as if they were in their own 
drawing-rooms. 93 

The women were not to have it all their own way, how- 
ever. Masculine elegance was well to the fore with the 
Marquis de Castellane, with his gardenia and his white 
gloves, rubbing shoulders with the Comte de Beaumont, 
a Venetian magnifico in a black tail coat. A little way off, 
the pleated shirt front of the Marquis de Gabriac bent 
"over Madame de Pourtales's fabulous dog-collar of pearls. 
And there would be the Comte d'Haussonville, Luzarche 
d'Azy, Arthur Meyer, and Andre de Fouquieres. Also 
his brother, immaculate as one of Alfred de Dreux's 
heroes, equally imperturable in escorting the Queen of 
Roumania one night and Monsieur Raymond Poincare 

But the Theatre des Champs-Elysees was destined to 
ill-fortune. Overburdened with expenses, putting on 
lavish and costly spectacles one after another, it did not 
receive from the public at large that measure of continuous 
support which its initiative merited. M. Gabriel Astruc, 
after months of struggle, had to confess himself beaten, 
and give up. 

The set-back was decisive. It proved once again that 
Parisians have no inherent love for music and that the' 
devotees of classical music, augmented as they may be 
from time to time by fashion and snobbery, are still only 
a small proportion of the French public and are powerless 
to impose their preferences on it. Of course this was not 
realized at once. Music continued to attract the socially 
dect down to the eve of 1914, and it manifested a good 
deal of activity again after the end of the war. But the 


mere sight of the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, that 
beautiful, empty, and unwanted theatre, serves as a re- 
minder that a temple can be too large for its worshippers. 

We cannot leave this description of the Parisian stage 
prior to the outbreak of the war without some reference to 
the cinema, that scientific projection of the theatre, 
hailed by its admirers as a fifth art. But as a matter of 
fact it was not until after 1915 or 1916 that the cinema 
began to attract a sufficient audience to make it in any 
way an influence upon public manners and opinion. 

In the beginning it was poor, plain, mediocre, and 
entirely without glamour. We smiled at the indifferent 
scenarios, the threadbare production and the naivett of 
the actors. It was a new and ingenious diversion nothing 
more. The first film to attract any public attention was 
ForfaiturSy in which the Japanese actor, Sessue Hawakaya, 
a magnificent mime, revealed something of the cinema's 
potentialities, and acquired that enthusiastic personal 
following which Paris so generously bestows upon her 
favourite entertainers. 

In those days nobody talked about cinema art. It 
seemed to be easy enough to translate a pky into light 
and shadow and to project it by a mechanical contrivance 
on to a blank screen in front of an unexacting audience. 
What could be simpler than to adapt existing master- 
pieces to this new technique and present them to a new 
and enormous public? And so various enthusiasts, with 
the intrepidity of ignorance, rushed in to produce great 

The most praiseworthy of these pre-war efforts were 
the productions of the Film d'Art Company, whose 
greatest success was The Assassination of the Due it 
Guise by Henry Lavedan, in which Le Bargy and Duflos 
appeared. Rejane, Mounet, Delvair, Huguenet, and other 
stars of the legitimate stage did not disdain to appear 
in these productions, which, feeble as they seem to us 
now, excited considerable enthusiasm at the time. 

Immature as they were, these spectacles demonstrated 


the possibility of making the cinema an entertainment fit 
for cultured intelligences. But already the cinema theatres 
were being crowded out by a public which had no use for 
entertainment of that sort, and it was not long in making 
its preferences felt. So began the era of crime serials and 
Wild Western thrillers, those palpitating mysteries which 
ran through innumerable episodes, each cut short at the 
most harrowing moment; those dashing horsemen gal- 
loping across the illimitable American prairie; the horse- 
play, the custard-pie throwing, all the exuberances of a 
strange land and a new and lusty people. The timid 
essays of the French cinema artists provoked indifference 
or ridicule; it was an intensely discouraging period for our 
native producers and talent. 

This was the state of the cinema on the outbreak of 
the Great War. It was then so far from outrivalling the 
theatre and from exerting even the slightest influence 
upon minds and manners that even a conservative forecast 
of its future predominance all over the world would have 
been hailed with laughter and incredulity. 



THE Third Republic began with commendable alacrity 
to complete the Haussmann plan for the reconstruction 
of the capital, but we are obliged to chronicle the fact that 
after the first outburst of enthusiasm the work proceeded 
with extreme dilatoriness. The face of Paris was cer- 
tainly completely- changed between 1860 and 1880, but it 
was hardly modified at all from the latter date down to 
3^14* It took more than twenty years to unite the dis- 
onnected sections of the Boulevard Raspail, and as to the 
famous half-finished Boulevard Haussmann that god- 
send to comedians and song writers short of a joke it was 
not until after the war that the work was again resumed. 
Save for the one gigantic enterprise which was begun just 
before the Exhibition of 1900, it seemed that the public 
authorities were suffering from complete inertia. 

This enterprise, the commencement of the Metropoli- 
tan Railway, had been discussed so much before, during 
and after its inauguration, that people began to wonder 
whether it really existed. It did though; the first stage 
had been commenced as far back as October igth 1899, 
a date which is an authentic landmark in the history of 

Flocks of curious citizens came to gaze upon that first 
little line from the Place de la Nation to the Porte 
Dauphine. They took their tickets, went down to the 
bowels of the earth, passed through the turnstiles and 
clambered excitedly into the trains. The principal im- 
pressions gathered seem to have been of the extreme 
cleanliness and the abundance of light. We read one 
account after another in the papers of the time extolling 
these characteristics; the lighting was, in fact, incredibly 
lavish for the period and the spick-and-spanness of the 
stations rare enough in France at any time. 

And then it was so quick. Paris forsook its omnibuses, 
its trams, and its horse cabs that now seemed so slow and 
15 209 


so dirty. Everybody wanted to ride on the new exciting 
and immaculate Metro: its success was immediate. 

Future developments were, of course, to favour it 
enormously. What would have happened without it to a 
Paris denuded of omnibuses and taxis during the war? 
And who could imagine the town without it to-day? 

The only other change in the physiognomy of Paris 
prior to 1914 was the appearance of the motor-bus. 

The first autobus plied between the Bourse and the 
Cours de la Reine on December 8th 1905, and the first 
regular service, Montmartre-St. Germain-des-Pres, dates 
from June 1906. Taxis made their appearance about the 
same time, but were not generally adopted by Parisians until 
some years later. Even at the outbreak of the war the num- 
ber of horse cabs on the streets was still very considerable. 

The street scene had not changed very much; there were 
still the same idle crowds and the same unoccupied air 
about the passers by of both sexes. There was one notable 
difference, however: people went out less and less after 
dinner. Gone was the running stream of light from shops 
and cafes which, right up till midnight used to bathe the 
procession of worthy citizens finishing up their evening 
stroll. After the 1900 Exhibition the big shops developed 
the habit of putting up their shutters earlier and earlier, 
and the exit from the theatres was not marked by any 
particular liveliness. Nocturnal revellers were becoming 
fewer and fewer each season. With the exception of the 
Montmartre district, which was a sort of licensed pleasure 
quarter, Paris was no longer a city of gay night life. 
Everything went quiet after dinner until the morning. 

But still between five and eight the cafes on the boule- 
vard were thronged with people, although many of the 
most famous resorts had disappeared, Tortoni's first, then 
the Cafe Riche, and eventually the Cafe Anglais. 

The real centre of Parisian life during this period was 
the Cafe Napolitain "le Napo". At least two genera- 
tions of journalists had sat with their elbows on its 
polished tables, and at least two generations of actors and 
show-girls had sat outside on lie terrace drinking the 
small Vichy prescribed for disordered digestions. 


It would be impossible to enumerate them all. We 
must content ourselves with mentioning the famous table 
on the left where sat Catulle Mendes, Ernest La Jeunesse, 
Georges Feydeau, Georges Courteline, Jean de Mitty, 
and Paul Franck. What a pity we cannot listen-in to 
their talk critical, cruel, and amusing as they dropped 
in one by one from a rehearsal, an art exhibition, or a row 
at the editorial offices. 

Catulle Mendes was almost a patriarchal figure in these 
assemblies round the little green glasses, while as for 
Georges Feydeau, Le Napo was only oae stage in the 

o * 

In the room on the right most usually sat Alfred Capus 
and Emmanuel Arene. Tall, sallow, with a pointed 
beard and rather neglectful of his person, Arene spent 
his time making a tour of all the ministries trying to find 
jobs for his supporters, invariably finishing up his day's 
work by a sumptuous lunch. Towards the evening he was, 
as he used tjHfiy himself, "in form", and his conversation 
was scijtfeSIating. 

for Capus, his round face with its short-sighted, half- 
eyes, thick lips, and his monocle, composed a 
physiognomy renowned throughout Paris. He was dined, 
f feted, and pampered by every one, and his cordiality was 
colossal. He was always ready to shake hands with any 
one, "Why not"? he used to say. "I have shaken hands 
with all the rascals of Parisand even with a few honest men/' 

He was always dropping epigrams in the best style of 
boulevard philosophy, such as: 

"How many happily married people are only estranged 
by the ceremony?" 

"Women keep a special corner of their memories for sins 
they haven't committed." 

" Jf a woman has a profession she doesn't want a husband. 
A lover is enough." 

"How many people refrain from quarrelling because 
they have mutual friends?" 

"It is not enough to say nowadays that so and so has 
arrived. It is necessary to establish in what state." 


"Speculating on the Exchange is like being wounded in 
battle: you don't see the man who shoots you." 

"People always say of a scoundrel that he is an able 
fellow, and of an honest man that he's a damned fool." 

Capus was a brilliant representative of the century-old 
tradition that kept the boulevard supplied with aphorisms 
after its own heart. 

Next to Le Napo, the favourite cafe of the period was 
the Weber in the rue Royale, to which Leon Daudet has 
devoted so many enthusiastic pages. 

There used to sit the young Marcel Proust, a pale young 
man with gazelle-like eyes, nervously chewing the end of 
his drooping brown moustache, and enveloped in woollen 
mufflers like a rare Chinese antique. He would call for 
fruit and water, he had always either just got up or was 
just going to bed, and he was always bored to extinction. 
And then, suddenly drawn into conversation by a remark 
from some new arrival, he would proceed to talk with a 
brilliancy and animation which astounded them all. 

"There was in his make-up something of Mercutio 
and something of Puck. He was always trying to follow 
half a dozen trains of thought at once, being naturally 
complex, subtle, and hyper-analytical. He could, when 
he liked, display immense ingenuity in being amiable, 
and he was eternally devoured by obscure and ironic 

Near him would be Toulet, bent over a weird 
American drink, and the king of gastronomes, Curnon- 
sky, fat as a Rabelaisian monk, Leon Daudet, tumultuous 
and cordial, the stammering Marieton, and Louis de la 
Salle, who was to be killed in the war. A little farther off 
would be Debussy, dreaming in a cloud of cigarette smoke, 
and Forain and Caran d'Ache. . . . 

About 1900 the American bar began to make its ap- 
pearance in Paris. The bar is essentially different from 
the cafe. The ktter is open on the street, extending its 
welcome to all passers-by; it is lively, noisy, and quarrel- 
some. But the bar has a secret and furtive air. Usually 


it is down a few steps or in some by-way; it is dimly lit, 
silent, intimate, almost contemplative. The high wooden 
counter, the stools, the seductive array of bottles on glass 
shelves, the imperturbable barman in his white coat, the 
patrons silently drinking a Martini or huddled together in 
a corner talking in low tones all these things go to make 
up a very special atmosphere, a closed sanctuary against 
the feverish life that beats on the door, a pkce for rest, 
truce, and f orgetfulness. 

The bar became fashionable almost immediately. 
People like Ernest La Jeunesse and Jean de Mitty began 
to spend hours in Calisaya's and Maxim's, the first two to 
become popular. By 1914 Paris was full of them. 

No description of the great days of Paris would be 
complete without a reference to the visits of the royal 
personage who had endeared himself to all Parisians in 
all walks of life the Prince of Wales, afterwards King 
Edward VII. The Prince's popularity increased with each 
visit. Usually he arrived in the capital semi-incognito, 
as was the case in 1889 when he visited the Exhibition 
and ascended the Eiffel Tower. He made many lifelong 
friends in the city. His appearance in the capital was 
regarded as an event of the first magnitude, and journalists 
recorded his movements from hour to hour, gave detailed 
descriptions of his clothes, hats, and ties, which men of 
fashion were not slow to imitate, and waxed enthusiastic 
over his jovial smile and his air of complete detachment 
as he walked along the boulevards, frequently unattended. 
The Prince was as popular in the streets as in the most 
exclusive salons. He liked Paris no doubt about that 
and he was conscious of the respect one might even say 
the affection which he inspired even among fervent 
Republicans and Democrats, who seized every opportunity 
of acclaiming "him. 

Eloquent proof of the esteem which Parisians had for 
him was furnished when as King Edward he arrived in 
Paris from Rome on May Day 1903. He had not visited 
the city for several years. The Boer War had intervened, 


and there were many Frenchmen whose sympathies were 
wholly with the men of the veldt. Certain newspapers, 
notably La Patrie, for which Luclen Millevoye, a deputy, 
wrote flamboyant articles, and La Presse (La Patrie no 
longer exists, and La Presse has now an outlook different 
from that of those days) started a campaign against the 
royal visit, urging their readers not to salute the King as 
he drove through the streets. 

The campaign became so furious that it was timidly 
suggested in a certain quarter that His Majesty's visit might 
be cancelled. But King Edward, unerring psychologist as 
he was, knew Paris and the temperament of Parisians, and 
when he arrived at the Port Dauphine Station in the Bois 
de Boulogne and was welcomed by the smiling President 
Loubet and drove with him in the presidential landau 
down the avenue des Champs-Elysees preceded by the 
band of the Garde Republicaine playing "There'll be a 
hot time in the old Town to-night", he was given the 
greatest, the most enthusiastic, of all the receptions 
accorded to him during his visits to Paris. 

The French Government of that day sensed the signi- 
ficance of the visit, and the cheering multitudes in the 
streets, at the special race meeting at Vincennes, at the 
gala performance at the Opera, seemed to have a pre- 
. monition of a great happening. They were soon to know 
the real purport of King Edward's visit. The Royal hand 
had been seen in the shaping of his country's foreign 
policy. The Entente Cordiale was born. 

Continuing the story of the rapid transformation of 
Paris, the most striking change in the appearance of the 
streets between 1900 and 1914 was afforded, as we have 
said, by the introduction of motor-buses and taxis. 
During these years, Science, our new all-powerful sove- 
reign, was extending her realm on every side. She per- 
mitted us to move rapidly and without impediment below 
the surface of the earth; to illumine our houses and streets 
in so dazzling a fashion that the old quivering gas-jets 
that used to flicker like night moths at the corners of dark, 


mysterious streets, were rapidly superseded and forgotten. 
First came the incandescent gas lamp, and finally electric 
lighting, which enabled the streets to shine under an even 
white glow over which the multicoloured announcements 
of theatres and cafes played like a perpetual firework dis- 
play. Electricity rapidly spread everywhere, in theatres, 
restaurants, big shops, little shops, houses and flats, and 
so another little revolution was accomplished. 

One of the most influential mediums in moulding 
Parisian taste was the establishment of the Motor Salon 
as an annual affair. People did not only flock to the Grand 
Palais to admire the new cars, but also to marvel at the 
power and volume of the lighting, intense, prodigious, and 
cunningly displayed, which beautified the whole place, 
while projectors on the roof outside bathed all the neigh- 
bouring streets in a flood of perpetual light. 

Then there was the telephone, which, hardly heard of at 
the time of the 1889 Exhibition, had become by 1900 a 
decisive factor in the life of the period. It had also 
bestowed an invaluable new property on the stage, while 
day by day its comic and tragic potentialities were 
being demonstrated in a hundred homes. By 1910 it had 
become a social necessity. 

There is a peculiar fatality dogging the inventions of 
man. They are always designed to make life simpler for 
him, and they always, in fact, add to its complications. 
They are designed to minimize physical effort, and in- 
variably they make it more and more urgent. They are 
designed to bring leisure and peace, and always they 
bring weariness and confusion. 

We can count them all up and they all come to this* 
The telephone, which largely supersedes letters, meetings, 
and journeys; the lift, which spares us the trouble of 
climbing the stairs; the typewriter, which doubles our 
speed in writing; the motor-car, which doubles our speed 
in motion; and all those endless contrivances designed to 
save our time and labour what have they all done but 
accelerate the rate at which we live and our expenditure 
of nervous energy and physical effort? 

The life of the city is always quickening to a beat which, 


unknown yesterday, will j>e surpassed to-morrow. The 
whirlwind of modern life has gathered momentum 
by 1910 and is^ already carrying all before it. In the 
streets preoccupied people scurry rapidly along; they leap 
across the road scanning it hastily as they jump before and 
behind their new juggernauts. Whether they are bent 
on pleasure or on business they hurry just the same. They 
rush everywhere even on to death. 

It is a dervish dance which racks the nerves, fractures 
the limbs, and atrophies the mind. Yearly it grows more 
and more intense until it dashes itself in fury against the 
immovable rock of war. 

The fashionable shopping quarter had shifted from the 
Boulevard des Italiens and the Boulevard Montmartre to 
the rue de la Paix and the Place Vend6me, which latter, 
a sombre and rather desolate square in 1880, has now 
become i centre of life and activity, with carriages piled 
up around the column and an elegant throng on the pave- 
ment before the Ritz. 

For Paris had adopted the American fashion of lunching 
or dining one's friends in a restaurant. Beautiful women 
enveloped in furs descend from their victorias and enter 
the hotel, with its huge white dining-room in Louis-Seize 
style and electric lights all along the walls. The little 
tables are decked with flowers, and gaily coloured sun- 
blinds give an additionally festive air, while a czigane 
orchestra rocks the diners to a never-ending waltz. 

It was delightful to be in Paris then! 

A little way off, the rue Royale had also become a centre 
of fashion. Close by the Cafe Weber, Maxim's gathered 
a crowd of generous diners and gay ladies under the 
watchful eye of Cornuche. The American visitor was the 
mainstay of Maxim's; for him was reserved the proprietor's 
warmest welcome, and the pretty ladies' most dazzling 
smiles and most extravagant hats, and with him they 
dianced on and on into the small hours. 

The Champs-Elysees had also changed. Gone were the 
aristocratic residences which were still entrenched there 


during the early years of the Third Republic. One by 
one they fell into the hands of the house-breakers, followed 
by builders who ran up enormous six-storied edifices with 
incredible rapidity. Fouquet's Cafe had just opened on 
the corner of the avenue de 1'Alma, and thaab to its 
excellent bar soon became one of the centres of attraction 
to that still rather remote quarter. In the avenue itself 
the newly arrived plutocrat Dufayd had built an enor- 
mous house whose completion was solemnized by a re- 
ception which included the President of the Republic and 
Madame Loubet. The expansive Dufayel received his 
distinguished guests at the head of the grand staircase and 
took the President round to see the house* Pausing before 
one of the most hideous examples of new-rich taste he 
murmured in the President's ear: "There, that is my 
supreme effort. I have christened it the Loubet style." 

Various theatres began to open round about the avenue 
des Champs-Elysees, and the thrust of Paris to the west 
became more distinctly marked. Soon Pierre Lafitte 
came there to install his new general offices, including the 
editorial departments of Femina, Je sais tout, and all the 
other papers associated with his name. Lafitte, as a key 
figure of the period, is worth a little attention. 

He first appeared upon the Parisian horizon after the 
Exhibition of 1900 and sounded the clarion call which 
heralded a new standard of manners and taste in what it is 
now customary to call "society"* This was his magazine, 
Femina, a periodical of hitherto unknown sumptuousness, 
launched with staggering publicity. Femina was much 
more than a mere fashion journal, The genius of M. 
Lafitte lay in perceiving two things. The first was that 
the actual participants in the pageant of Parisian social life 
were eagerly desirous of publicity and loved to see them- 
selves and their friends in picture and print. The second 
was that outside this charmed circle existed an enormous 
public to whom the doings of the circle were so enthralling 
that they asked nothing better than to gaze upon the 
reflection of that expensive and animated world in the 
luscious and shiny pages of the new magazine. On one 
page they could see the Duchesse de Vendome in her 


private drawing-room; on another Lucien Guitry in his 
dressing-room or Lavalliere in her bath. The following 
pages afforded them a glimpse of this distinguished painter 
attending to his grape vines, or that celebrated man-of- 
letters gathering shrimps, or that famous politician 
learning to box with Tristan Bernard. All garnished with 
succulent text and with numerous drawings of the latest 
authentic model fashions, with a story from the pen of one 
of the best-sellers thrown in. Such a galaxy at once found 
thousands of eager purchasers. 

The man who kunched this magazine became famous 
literally overnight. Paris swore by Lafitte, and his papers 
became the city's favourite reading. In their pages was 
mirrored the society which oscilkted between the Riviera 
in winter, the capital in the spring, Trouville in the 
summer and the Basque coast in the autumn, dividing 
its leisure between tennis, the theatre, and the pursuit of 

It was a world of dashing young sportsmen, charming 
ladies on horseback, and mature clubmen, 1905 vintage, 
with check trousers and spats. The women wore enor- 
mous befeathered hats and velvet dresses with guipure 
insertions, long gloves in summer, and voluminous muffs 
in winter. Such a world, where all the men were rich 
and dashing and all the women elegant, could not fail to 
ravish the suburbs of Paris and the remoter fastnesses of 
provincial France. 

Pierre Lafitte was not content merely with the success 
of Femina^ he launched successively J^ sais tout, Excelsior, 
Musica, and Fermes et Chdteaux, and all with the same 
good fortune. 

His success was typical of those happy years just before 
1914, years when nothing ever went wrong and when 
French society seemed to have reached the zenith of its 
elegance, wealth, and culture. 

It was good to be in Paris then. On fine mornings, 
when the gay crowd of idlers thronged the avenue du Bois 
to take their "footing", as they were beginning to call it, 
where immaculately dressed men, pretty women on 
bicycles, and an occasional motor, still the subject of 


curious stares, mingled with tlie throng of victorias, 
landaus, and riders on horseback. 

Among the promenaders could always be found the two 
artists who have so effectively preserved for us the women 
of that period, so close, yet so far away. The long, 
sallow Helleu, etcher of slender, swan-necked beauties, 
and the little squat Boldini, portrayer of that dashing 
femininity, with its extravagantly tapering fingers and 
mandarin nails, so sweepingly set down that the subjects 
seem to be almost in flight on the canvas. Helleu and 
Boldini bore the reputation of possessing two of the 
most malicious tongues in Paris. "They dissected and 
devoured at least one mutual acquaintance per day," says 
Leon Daudet. "When the supply ran short, they fell on 
each other." Often they were joined by Sem, the 
favourite caricaturist of the period, who had the satirist's 
gift for seizing on the ridiculous in every face and figure. 
These three were an indispensable trinity at every 
Parisian spectacle* The morning found them in the Bois; 
the afternoon at a private view or reception; the evening 
at a first night or at the Opera. In the summer they were 
to be encountered on the promenade at Trouville, in the 
winter at Nice or Cannes. 

Most of the morning promenaders in the Bois converged 
on Armenonville or La Cascade, where it was fashionable 
to take the morning aperitif. Lunch became later and 
later, and very much shorter and less formal than the meal 
of twenty years ago. Men developed the habit of coming 
in their lounge suits and women kept their hats on. 

The afternoon was taken up by calls, exhibitions, or 
private views. From two or three in the afternoon a 
frenzy of activity seemed to seize smart Parisians and 
whirl them on in a ceaseless round until well on in the 
small hours. 

The salon still enjoyed much of its old popularity, and 
year by year the same crowd of the faithful thronged its 
floors. But "varnishing day 5 * became less sought after; 
the ceremony was becoming more or less common with 
rival exhibitions increasing on every side. 

The fashionable dressmaker of the period was much 


more than a mere shopkeeper; he was an artist, a dictator, 
and an arbiter of taste. In no one figure are these 
characteristics so strikingly assembled as in that of 
Paul Poiret. 

His audacities, his revolutionary innovations in colour 
and line, had made him and his creations world-famous. 
He was on the spiky pinnacle of fashion, surrounded by 
a world of snobs. His openings were important social 
occasions, his novelties were epoch-making and were the 
subject of endless and animated discussion all over the 
town and in all the newspapers, even abroad. 

The fashionable dressmaker provided a sumptuous set- 
ting for his pronouncements; a magnificent orchestra, 
singers, dancers, and a lavish buffet. The models were 
introduced with Byzantine ritual; each was displayed on 
a girl of remarkable and appropriate beauty, and each 
bore a name evocative of passion, gaiety, mystery, or 
charm all the emotions likely to arouse desire in feminine 
breasts. No wonder that the women flocked in. 

The race meetings were, if anything, more brilliant than 
ever, and the classic occasions were further adorned by a 
battalion of beauties from the great dressmaking houses 
wearing the most striking styles. The stands were modern- 
ized and enlarged, but the whole setting at Auteuil and 
Longchamps was the same as it had always been within 
living Parisian memory. But, here as elsewhere, demo- 
cracy had crept in. The leveUing-down process had 
abolished the extravagances and eccentricities of yester- 
year, and the carriage parade, which had once been so 
magnificent, dwindled down and down to an ever- 
decreasing muster of mail-coaches. 

The red liveries of Count Potocki's grooms still stood 
out on the green lawns before a line of carriages, but now 
reduced to six or seven. After the war only two or three 
remained to remind Parisians of the glories of those days 
when fifteen or more coaches, including those of Gordon 
Bennett and Charles de la Rochefoucauld, would drive 
through Paris with their spirited horses, their horns 
resounding through the flowering chestnuts under a blue 
spring sky. Already in 1910 their image was fading. 


Tea-shops, on the other hand, sprang up as if by magic. 
Those Parisians who were indifferent to gastronomy vied 
with each other in aping English manners and found 
themselves, round about five o'clock, in urgent need of 
toast and muffins. Some of these tea-shops reproduced 
faithfully the modest interiors of their prototypes across 
the Channel; others were larger, noisier, and more 
luxurious, and attracted round their tables battalions of 
chattering women and idle men, together with a large 
number of visitors. 

This "tea hour" was something quite new in the life of 
the city; it marked the end of the day; it was at once a 
recreation and a pretext for gossip, and it satisfied the 
innate snobbery of those who always have to look some- 
where else for social guidance. An irresistible current of 
Anglomania swept into French life and manners at this 
period, and, it must be regretfully chronicled, perverted 
them in more than one direction. 

The nearer we approach to 1914 the more are we struck 
by the frenzied acceleration of social life and luxury, like 
the breathless final gallop of a grand quadrille the night 
before a catastrophe. Such ftes as the Comtesse de 
Chabrillon's "Arabian Nights Ball", for instance, sur- 
passed in splendour anything that the dazzling record of 
French entertainment can show. The dance went on 
faster and faster, whirling its intoxicated coryphes dizzy 
in the unending pursuit of pleasure, until the moment 
that Mars thundered on the gate. 

If we look for one figure to evoke all this for us, it can 
only be Boni de Castellane's. He is the typical period 
piece, authentically signed and dated; the mirror of a 
generation. His aristocratic birth, his marriage to an 
American of fabulous wealth, his taste for the glories of 
the past, his showmanship, his understanding of the 
essentially modern "science" of decoration, his political 
ambitions, even his ability to learn from experience and 
to save himself by honest work from the wreckage of his 
fortune all these things are the hall-marks of the period, 
not to be found in any of his prototypes, the D'Orsays, 
the Brummells, the de Sagans. His is the type which 


above all others is summed up for us in tlie term 

When Boni de Castellane married Anna Gould it was 
an event which filled the Press columns of two continents 
for weeks. When the young couple settled down in Paris, 
their manage, their possessions, and their social appearances 
were the chief topic of conversation. 

The rumour that the Faubourg St. Germain had black- 
balled them was set at naught by the invitations from the 
Due d'Orleans and the Due d'Aumale. Paris was soon to 
learn what a prodigality of artistic splendour its new 
magnifico could produce, and the fte given in honour of 
his wife's twenty-first birthday left the most sophisticated 
and experienced dazzled and breathless. 

Boni de Castellane had rented a pigeon shoot in the 
Bois, and had had a stage of more than a hundred metres 
long erected by the lakeside, where eighty dancers from 
the Opera ballet performed to an orchestra of two hundred 
musicians, their dancing silhouettes mirrored in the still 
water. The fountains played streams of coloured fire, and 
eighty thousand Venetian lanterns, like exotic fruits, hung 
among the trees, while myriads of lamps turned all the 
walks into shining ribbons of light. The f te was preceded 
by a dinner to two hundred and fifty people. Sixty foot- 
men in scarlet livery spangled the green grass, and fifteen 
miles of carpet had been laid down. 

It had become necessary to postpone the fte for forty- 
eight hours on account of the death of the Duchesse de 
Nemours, and on the evening before it actually took place 
a storm burst on the city. But the night itself was 
brilliantly fine, and under a sky powdered with stars the 
three thousand guests came out to gaze upon these marvels. 

Camille Grouet conceived the idea of releasing twenty- 
five white swans at the moment when the fountains of fire 
began to pky. Drawn by the light and bewildered by 
the noise, the unhappy creatures took flight and flew 
distractedly in all directions. 

Nothing like this had been seen since the days of the 
Second Empire, and the name of Boni de Castellane took 
rank with those of the great satraps of the past. 


He was actuated by nothing more than sheer artistic 
307 in composing such spectacles. When the President of 
the Municipal Council sent him the usual formal request 
to state "for what purpose" he was organizing a fete in 
the Bois de Boulogne, he replied, "For pleasure", leaving 
the official mind thunderstruck at the conception of any 
undertaking conceived without thought of utilitarian 
purpose or profit. 

It was apparent that he belonged to another and more 
sumptuous age. He himself recognized it, 

"Faced with an uncomprehending middle-class 
society" (he says), "I put myself deliberately back in 
the past, and there I composed for myself an existence 
of curious pageantry, beautiful women, and rare spec- 
tacles of every kind. I was an exile, not from my 
country but from my age, and so I have consoled myself 
by living the life of the past as much out of an urgent 
craving for beauty as out of distaste for the world which 
surrounded me." 

In his famous house in the avenue du Bois no single 
detail was left unsuperintended; every angle of light and 
shade, every aspect of colour, had been foreseen, and every 
article of furniture thought out and placed. The result 
was an interior whose richness, beauty, and subtlety was 
the chief topic of conversation in all the drawing-rooms, 
all the clubs and in all the society papers. 

It was recounted how, before the household moved in, 
the house was blessed by the Cure de Saint Honore 
d'Eylau, in full canonicals with a retinue of choristers and 
priests, and how Boni de Castellane's first reception was to 
all who had taken part in the construction and furnishing 
of the house, from the famous painters and sculptors down 
to the carpenters and the plumbers. A lunch was served 
at a table twenty-eight metres long where all the guests 
sat down together in appreciation of the gesture. 

Soon the lights went up in the great drawing-room and 
the house was ready for the admiration of Paris. 

The long line of carriages extended as far as the Arc de 
Triomphe. Five hundred f ootmen were there to usher in 


the guests as they crowded into the hall and mounted the 
great staircase, modelled b7 Desperey on that of the 
Ambassadors at Versailles, between rows of powdered 
lackeys resplendent in purple livery with the Castellane 
arms. The crowd surged up with a loud murmur of 
excitement which swelled above the sound of the orchestra. 
The master of the house was at the head of the stairs, 
"to observe", as he said himself, "their faces as they 
ascended". It is to be feared that envy and malice 
contorted a good many of them. 

"The preoccupation, necessary if they were not to 
trip up and fall down the stairs" (he continued) "would 
at least delay for a little while the bitter comments 
which I knew only too well some of them would not be 
able to resist. . . . 

"So little accustomed to splendour were my con- 
temporaries that it seemed to go to their heads, and 
they behaved in our house in a way which they would 
never have permitted to themselves elsewhere. A com- 
parative stranger one day stuck a pin into the calves of 
one of my menservants to 'see if they were reaP." 

These barely stifled criticisms, these acid remarks and 
all that vague floating cloud of jealousy had ample oppor- 
tunities of crystallizing around the de Castellane manage 
as its fantasies and extravagances increased. The purchase 
of the Chateau de Marais was marked by another out- 
burst of prodigality, and as the prevailing colour in the 
decoration of the house was a delicate reseda green, the 
scarlet liveries which the servants wore in Paris was found 
to be discordant. So they had to be changed, and a livery 
of white and blue, combined with powdered hair, was 
substituted, giving the pkce the delicately faded aspect 
of an eighteenth-century gouache drawing, the age of blue 
and silver. 

The park was the scene of innumerable gaieties and 
f tes; illuminations lit up the fountains and the waterfalls, 
and retinues of carriages lined up along the drives. At the 
main staircase to the house was a janitor in a crimson 
cloak, and on first seeing him the Grand Duke Vladimir 


asked, "Who is that Cardinal over there?" to which de 
CasteUane replied, "Oh, he is only to mate an agreeable 
scarlet patch against the white stone walls." 

We are told that on receiving this reply the Duke 
regarded his host with a mixture of pity and admiration. 

A magnificent stable under the supervision of Count 
Sapieri was soon added to the property. 

Meanwhile, in the house on the avenue du Bois the 
balls and the fetes went on. Masses of flowers, myriads 
of lanterns, garlanded the place; tapestries, pictures, and 
objets cPartyreK purchased regardlessly with the prodigality 
of a Renaissance prince who would not deign to bargain. 
More than sixty minion francs, on Boni de Castelkne's 
own reckoning, were flung into the whirlpool of Paris. 

Very soon die author of all this luxury became a public 
figure to the crowd. He was called "Boni" everywhere, 
and everybody pointed him out as he got down from his 
carriage. He figured in all the music-hall songs and in 
all the revue sHts; he was on the pinnacle of notoriety. 

He then began to display political ambitions. Le 
Gatdois, Le Figaro, and the Revue its Deux Mondes 
accepted his articles, and ambassadors and politicians 
began to frequent his table. Was he going to abandon 
his role as the premier showman of Paris in favour of 
becoming a national attraction? But, alas! his prodigality 
had alarmed his wife's family, and Paris awoke one day to 
learn of his divorce and total financial ruin. "After seven 
years of unparalleled opulence," he writes, "I found myself 
without a sou." 

But he had too much spirit to be daunted by adversity, 
and the genuine knowledge of art and antiques and the 
experience which he had acquired in his past relations 
with the art dealers who had plucked him, enabled him 
still to make a living in a way where he could still enjoy the 
pleasures of beauty, now the only alleviation of his existence. 

He lived on, but he was no longer the respository of the 
manners and taste of a period. The last of the dandies 
had abdicated without leaving a successor. 

There was a man who might have inherited the role 
had he not flourished more or less at the same time. This 


was the ineffable Count Robert de Montesquiou-Ferensac, 
precious, exotic, a little deliquescent, and influencing a 
narrower and much more exclusively artistic circle. 

Montesquiou belonged to the gallery of eccentric 
spirits and original wits, and he arrogated to himself the 
role of major-domo of letters. Everything about him 
attracted attention his ties, his gloves, the cut and 
colour of his coats, his art collection, his likes and dislikes, 
his stormy friendships, his portraits by Boldini and 
Whistler, and his authentic grand seigneur voice which 
turned the heart of Arthur Meyer into water. 

He was typical of the opening of the twentieth century. 
He had never possessed anything like the fortune which 
Boni de Castellane had had to spend, but he was actuated 
by the same real love of beauty, the same ability in decora- 
tive assembly, the same assiduously cultivated taste for the 
past, mingled with something original and a little mad, 
which is the hall-mark of the poet. 

His rooms were a riotous assembly of dissimilar objects 
old family portraits, Empire furniture, Japanese kakemonos 
and Whistler etchings. The recurring motif of all his 
drawings, designs, and objets d'art was his favourite flower 
the hortensia. 

Les hortensias blous, 
De M. de Montesquieu, 
De M. de Montesquiou, 

sang Jean Lorrain, who couldn't stand him. It was Jean 
de Lorrain who, in a description of Montesquiou's portrait 
in the current salon said, "He is flourishing a light cane, as 
if he is trying to make up his mind where to put it." 
De Montesquiou expended enormous thought upon the 
dedications of his boob. He wanted them to be original, 
fastidious, and erudite; he stood for the hyper-refinement 
of taste and for an allusive and fantastic style whose con- 
tortions were mimicked by Ernest La Jeunesse in the lines 

o o" Ave Caesar: morituri 

Tesalutant. Mort? Ituri! 
0! Ris! Tuns? Mon Ituri! 
Ristti? Turis? Morituri, 
Triturant des enterrements. . . . 


But however much they might imitate his literary style 
nobody could imitate the impact of his personality upon 
a certain social set. Tall and slender, with frizzed black 
hair, a salient nose, and a delicate moustache, he was an 
actor of genius and a most astonishing mimic. All his 
body came into play as he talked; he shook and quivered 
with excitement, his legs bent and straightened, his arms 
waved, and he seemed to have at least a hundred pairs of 
hands as the fingers were linked, bent, outstretched and 
clenched, modelling in the air and juggling with invisible 
objects. He expressed all his emotions joy, anger, 
sorrow, amusement, appreciation in his attitudes and 
gestures with the rapidity and fluency of an Italian mime. 

When he was trying to sell something, he became the 
supreme impresario. 

"He had" (says Boni de Castelkne) "an extraordin- 
ary talent for presenting things to advantage. Once in 
my presence he was displaying to one of his women 
friends a hideous table inlaid with mother-of-pearl in 
the worst Second Empire taste, a glaring white object 
which would have shrieked in any surroundings. But 
he had hidden it behind a red curtain, and had placed 
upon it a crystal vase with one long-stemmed rose. 
With incomparable sleight of hand he withdrew the 
curtain, but delicately so that the piece of furniture was 
not entirely revealed at once. As he drew back the 
folds he began to talk about it, comparing its pearly 
whiteness to the skin of his visitor, its finely moulded 
feet with hers, and the perfume of the flower with her 
hair. All with such a wealth of simile and allusion that 
the lady fell for the thing immediately and could hardly 
rest until she had borne it off in her carriage." 1 

But whatever Montesquiou could feign when it was a 
matter of picking up or of disposing of things, his depth of 
feeling for beauty was very real, and his terrifying storms 
of anger were nearly always aroused by the hideousness 
of something or somebody. He lashed himself into 

1 Boni de Caitdlane: L'Art f&re favm. (Crtt.) 


tremendous fury and suffered no check on his cruel tongue 
and devastating gift of repartee. 

So striking a personality could not fail to arouse interest 
and curiosity, and if lie never exercised the same sway 
over the fashionable world as Boni de Castellane he was 
nevertheless an original and outstanding figure who played 
his part with immense zest. 

All these men crystallized a period of French taste which 
was represented in literature by Mallarme and Verlaine, by 
the Impressionists and Gustave Moreau in painting, 
but particularly by a revival of the minor and decorative 
arts and crafts which enjoyed a period of unparalleled 
popularity. Furniture, silversmith's work, pottery, hand- 
wrought jewellery, etchings and engravings, were the 
rage with all those who aspired to be fashionable, for a 
love of the precious and the rare, a super-refinement of 
taste and a conscious aestheticism were characterisitics 
of the period. 

We have travelled a long way from the crudities of 
naturalism. Oscar Wilde and Burne-Jones, introduced to 
Paris by the Baroness Deslandes, were making disciples 
everywhere. The Comte de Montesquiou managed to 
combine all these tendencies in his own person, but 
fashionable women were content to concentrate on the 
artistic pose. They wore embroidered shawls, hair parted 
b la Botticelli, and carried flowers in their hands. Loudly 
on every side was proclaimed the dawn of the New Art. 

This New Art had made its first encroachment into 
furniture and decoration at the Exhibition of 1900, and 
it flourished for about ten years under the title of 
"modern style". 

It was not an evolution from any of the historic styles, 
but a definite break with them. It upset all the tradi- 
tional forms and usages which had served for centuries 
and created a multitude of mysterious concealed cup- 
boards, combined bookcase-divan-beds, and chairs as con- 
torted and involved as one of Montesquieu's sonnets. It 
employed materials of no intrinsic beauty, bleak ash or 
pear wood copiously adorned with beaten brass, producing 
an effect at once bleak and tawdry. 


The new interiors were hailed with joy by amateurs of 
artistic revolutions, but they did not find favour with the 
mass of the people, who preferred the forms hallowed 
by time and usage. But nevertheless the New Art had 
considerable influence. At least it succeeded in abolish- 
ing the fussy draperies and clumsy portentous furniture 
which had disfigured French drawing-rooms for nearly 
half a century. Light, space, and clear colour began to 
be appreciated; people learned to dispense with heavy 
portieres embellished with fringes and tassels and with the 
clutter of bibelots on wall-brackets. The ornate black 
furniture, that uninspiring legacy of the Second Empire, 
disappeared completely and copies of Louis-Quinze and 
Louis-Seize furniture came into fashion. 

The growth of public taste for miscellaneous antiques 
gave a great impetus to the army of restorers, fakers, and 
buyers and sellers generally. During the twenty years 
prior to the war a host of antique-dealers encamped in 
Paris, making a separate little world of their own, a world 
full of bargains, real and false, trickery, and clandestine 
commissions. The "modern style" did not hold out for 
long against the orgy of genuine and bogus eighteenth- 
century and Renaissance "pieces" with which the capital 
was flooded. Buying antique furniture became a f asMon- 
able amusement; smart people boasted of the bargains 
they had picked up, devoured catalogues, haunted sales in 
old houses and junk-shops in disreputable by-ways. 

Those who owned old houses but had no furniture or 
antiques of their own, offered their houses to dealers as 
frames for the latter*s wares, so that the sight of the things 
in their contemporary settings should excite the imagina- 
tion of would-be collectors and send the prices up. This 
was known as "planting out furniture". 

Prices began to soar to fantastic heights, for people 
would pay anything to gratify an aesthetic fancy. And 
the possibility of converting these purchases into cash was 
one of the major preoccupations of society on the eve of 
the Great War, when it could be no longer doubted that 
an unprecedented catastrophe was imminent. 



THOSE historians who state that the World War burst over 
Europe in 1914 like a sudden clap of thunder are gravely 
in error. In France, at any rate, the state of society during 
the five or six preceding years indicated plainly enough an 
anticipation of evil and unrest. All the characteristic pre- 
monitions of a great change were plainly to be discerned, 
and if the new generation which had arisen could not 
actually foretell the future, at least it sensed that it would 
be fundamentally different from the past. And the warn- 
ing flashes of a conflagration coming from Austria and 
Germany had not entirely escaped public observation. 

It is true that no disquiet seemed to trouble the ranks 
of pre-war society, which, as we have said, was never more 
brilliant than in those years from 1900 to 1914. Life 
seemed so pleasant and so easy then; science had bestowed 
so many concrete benefits on us, ideas circulated so freely; 
art and the appreciation of beauty seemed to be increasing 
on every side. 

But underneath this appearance of wealth and tran- 
quillity there were certain signs to be read, and most 
clearly in the disposition of the younger generation. 
Perhaps the most notable of these is the steady resurrec- 
tion, as we approach the fatal date, of the patriotic idea. 

During the years from 1889 to 1900 the conception of 
patriotism had progressively declined in inspiration. The 
unedifying spectacle of parliamentary corruption, the free 
circulation of disruptive opinion, the Dreyfus case, and 
the enormous influence of the Tolstoyian dream of world- 
brotherhood, and, finally, the definitely anti-militarist 
standpoint taken up by all the universities and the intelli- 
gentsia, had created a definitely pacifist and internationalist 
sentiment in almost all intellectual circles. Nobody except 
a few irreconcilables like Deroulede gave any thought to an 
actual military revenge on Germany; the nation as a whole 
had become quite resigned to the 1870 boundary-line. 



This drifting indifference received its first jerk over the 
1905 incident, from which must be dated the first revival 
of nationalist sentiment. 

The incident was, in fact, grave enough. The Emperor 
William II had landed at Tangier, declared that the 
Moroccan question affected German interests, and de- 
manded the dismissal of the Foreign Minister Delcasse 
under a virtual threat of war. And France had been 
obliged to give in. 

The most optimistic internationalists were a little dis- 
quieted, but the young men of the country found the 
humiliation intolerable. And their bitterness and humilia- 
tion found expression in a new intellectual ferment. Ideas 
were debated as enthusiastically as in the days when Paul 
Adam and his generation devoured Bakounin and Karl 
Marx, but the ideas were very different. Once again the 
whole social structure of France was arraigned, but from 
a very different standpoint. 

Two men had just emerged who were to exercise a very 
far-reaching influence over their contemporaries. They 
were Charles Peguy and Charles Maurras, and they were 
to shape the intellectual life of the next twenty years or 
more. Of the two, the latter has had a more widespread 
and permanent influence, but the former is the more 
picturesque personality, and he offers the more striking 
example of the evolution of ideas during the period from 
1900 to 1914. 

In 1900 Peguy was a little man with a square jaw and 
square shoulders, clad in a tight-fitting coat, hob-nailed 
shoes, and a soft hat, and wearing, through the winter, an 
enormous hooded cloak to keep out the cold. He was the 
typical poor student of the period, the rustic come to 
Paris, and he was then, of course, a Socialist, a reformer, 
and a disciple of Jean Jaures. 

"He was as methodical as a clockwork machine** (says 
Rene Johannet of hi in those days), "and as sharp and 
undeviating. He never shrank from the consequences 
of his actions, however severe these might be." 

This rustic apostle yearned to do something; he wanted 


to put his mark on his generation. He contributed, of 
course, to the Revue Blanche and the Revue Socialist*, but 
he was already aware of that peculiar vision of his which 
made it imperative that he should have a platform of his 
own, where his ideas could be proclaimed without fear or 
favour. So he began the famous Cabiers, which were to 
become the intellectual pivot of a whole generation. 

He had a little office on the ground floor at 16 rue de la 
Sorbonne, and there every Thursday came Daniel Halevy, 
the brothers Tharaud, Julien Benda, Jacques Maritain, 
and others now famous. The contributors also included 
Romain Rolland, although he did not come in person to 
the Thursday meetings. 

Charles Peguy ruled his supporters with a rod of iron.* 
He was, in fact, essentially a soldier and a believer. 
"There was always 55 , as the Tharauds have said, "an 
exalted enthusiasm about him which gave a mystical 
quality to everything he undertook." At that time all 
his energies were taken up by the Cahiers, but later on he 
was to throw himself whole-heartedly into the attack on 
Jaures, and upon the "evil professors of the Sorbonne", 
whom he accused of inculcating subversive and disruptive 
doctrines. Finally, he became immersed in the creation 
of Notre Patrie. All this time he was discarding his 
Socialism, and becoming more and more taken up with 
the revival of French nationalism. 

But his patriotism, like his Catholicism, was a very 
personal thing. Daniel Halevy has said that he was at 
once a classicist, a revolutionary, and a Christian. A man 
of the people himself, he knew how to talk to them in 
that fervent and primitive imagery which they under- 
stand. None of his fellows had that particular gift of 
investing the patriotic idea with a religious quality. He 
was a violent partisan, entirely independent, and always 
a little unreasonable. He could no more suffer the stric- 
tures of some of his military supporters than those of the 
official religious hierarchy. And his peculiar influence lay 
in all these things. 

His trend towards Catholicism began to show at a 
fairly early stage, and after Le Mysthe de la Chariti de 


Jeanne ffArc the rumour of his approaching conversion 
was the chief topic in literary circles. 

His appearance had remained quite unchanged through 
all these years, and the ardent mystical Catholic was the 
same odd, rustic-looking little man who had come to 
Paris to sit at the feet of Jean Jaures. His spiritual pil- 
grimage had taken him a long way from those days, and it 
was a pilgrimage which he was to mark out for many. 

In the beginning his influence was exercised conjointly 
with that of Romain Holland, whose Jean Chrisiople hail 
just rallied sensitive souls throughout the world* Later on 
the two diverged into two very different philosophies, but 
their influence in the beginning coincided in that they 
made their appeal to the same fundamental disgust for 
contemporary bourgeois society, with its shoddy cleverness 
and vulgar standards, to the same instinctive yearning for 
the justifying ideals of Life, Work, and Conscience. 

Men used capital letters then to dignify their ideals, 
and, indeed, these ideals have come to acquire an almost 
supernatural potency. It was a grave and serious genera- 
tion, marching on to the unknown altar for which it was 
the ordained sacrifice, the generation which was to be 
immolated in the first year of the war. 

To those ardent spirits who followed the mystical flame 
of Peguy were added the disciples who followed in the 
wake of the remorseless logician, Charles Maurras. 

Unlike Peguy, Maurras was not a man of the people; 
he came of good upper middle-class stock with a long and 
honourable record of public service, bearing in its Mediter- 
ranean blood the inherent Latin respect for authority and 
law. He had had a seminary education, but was naturally 
indifferent to personal religion, since his cold, dear mind 
could only comprehend precise and logical forms. None 
could have been further removed than he from the 
mystical approach of a Peguy. There were no lyrical 
pseans in his argument, no appeals to those instinctive 
emotions that slumber behind men's minds. His remorse- 
less logic descended upon muddled ideas like the steady, 
inexorable blows of a chopper. 

This little dry, dark man, direct descendant of the 


Roman colonizers, had attached himself to the Royalist 
party, and his vigorous dialectic had given it a new lease 
of life. Like Peguy, he, too, began to make disciples, and 
after first being associated with Herve on the Gazette de 
France^ he decided to form, with Vaugeois, Montesquieu, 
and Banville, a little review entitled L? Action Franfaise. 
The leading spirits used to meet at the Cafe de Flore on 
the Boulevard St. Germain, a famous rallying-point of the 
younger generation. 

The review did not satisfy Maurras, and on March 2ist 
1908 he converted it into a daily paper of the same name. 
He had now become associated with the turbulent Leon 
Daudet, and the era of violent campaigns was begun. 

The next step was the formation of the Cercle Prudhon 
for the study of social questions. Then came the Institut 
d* Action Fran9aise, a sort of free university for in- 
culcating and explaining the neo-monarchical theories 
advocated in the paper. Finally, the association of the 
Camelots du Roi proposed to enforce propaganda by action. 

With this formidable equipment the neo-monarchists 
began to make themselves heard and felt. The Camelots 
du Roi constituted themselves a self-appointed "supple- 
mentary gendarmerie", and made a number of dramatic 
interferences on various occasions. 

The influence of Maurras upon the intellectual life of 
the younger generation was, however, largely counter- 
balanced by that of Georges Sorel, a former engineer who 
had once been prominent in the Thursday gatherings of 
the Cahiers group. But the doctrine which Sorel pur- 
veyed in Reflexions sur la Violence and Illusions du Progres 
was a much higher explosive than the firework gunpowder 
of Peguy. As instances may be cited Sorel's two most 
important disciples Mussolini and Lenin. 

And yet it was entirely by words that he made his dis- 
ciples, this disillusioned phildsopher with the eyes of a 
dreamer. "Discourse was his battle-field" (says Rene 
Johannet); "and he would talk anywhere, in the street, 
at table, over the counter in a shop. Everywhere men 
gathered around him just to hear him talk." And he would 
talk about everything, the Dreyfus case, Socialism, Plato, 


Plotinus, Poincare, the Epicureans, War and Peace, Every 
subject he enlightened with his peculiar and original view, 
and the seeds which he flung into the air found a fruitful 
soil in which to germinate. Men were to be astonished 
later on at the influence of this timid, sensitive, and 
commonplace-looking little man, who was inconsolable for 
months because a temporary quarrel with Peguy had out- 
lawed him from the sacred offices in the rue de la Sorbonne. 
The young men who gathered round Peguy, Maurras, 
and Sorel had one trait in common which was to endure 
for several generations, and which we shall find still per- 
sisting after the war. They were realists in politics. It 
was not a realism which dealt in phrases and I ormulae; it 
prided itself on looking everything straight in the face 
and on going straight on its way regardless of sentiment. 
All these young Frenchmen were brusque, sharp, and 
disillusioned. Agathon has described them admirably: 

"In the past it was the fashion to idle through one's 
youth; students played around with ideas, wasted their 
years at the Universities, and cultivated a reluctance to 
make up their minds about anything, were it taking up 
a profession or getting married. But the new generation 
knows exactly what it wants and young as they are they 
set immediately out to do it. They find something 
morally necessary in earning their living, and they have 
none of that contempt for money which was fashionable 
among intellectuals yesterday. The simple philosopher 
who draws his own water from the well and lives on the 
handful of olives purchased with the price of half an 
hour's labour is not their ideal at all. 

"At the age of twenty-five or even less many of them 
are fathers of families. It seems that this is part of 
their taste for the ordered and the permanent. A youth- 
ful liaison is a waste of time, they say, and in their 
optimism they mean that it is a waste of happiness. For 
their theory is that happiness can only be founded upon 
what is stable and enduring. 

"This passion for order and stability, this horror of 
the experimental and the temporary, explains much 


that seems revolutionary in the ways of the young. 
They are profoundly impressed by the gravity of certain 
aspects of life which their elders were accustomed to 
regard with light-hearted cynicism. It is not because 
their sensibility is keener, but because they wish to pre- 
serve it from experiences where the forces of sensuality 
and egotism alone are called into play." 

Of course the growth of sport had played its part in 
all this. All these young men had been brought up to 
play football, with its insistence upon solidarity and dis- 
cipline, and a year or two before the outbreak of the war 
sporting enthusiasm culminated in the establishment of 
an athletic training college at Reims. 

France had just been beaten at the Stockholm Olympic 
Games of 1912, and the whole nation was agitatedly 
pondering the question which George Rozet had raised 
in UOfinion: "How are we going to fare in 1916?" The 
answer to this was the foundation by the Marquis de Polig- 
nac of the athletic training college in the Pommery park. 

Its setting was the rolling plain which leisurely mounts 
to the horizon to form the mountains of Reims, There were 
race-tracks, courses, and grounds for games of all kinds, the 
ktest appliances for everything, and most luxurious baths. 

The new generation, mad on physical development, fell 
on the idea with enthusiasm. It became fashionable to 
spend one's holidays there, to camp in the open, perform 
Swedish exercises with the utmost vigour and regularity, 
and to take "a complete physical cure", as the phrase went. 
The place was under the direction of a former naval 
lieutenant, and it was not only patronized by the young. 
Grizzled heads and even white were common among its 

It was only to be expected that the young men should 
be so powerfully drawn to physical exploits, for the air 
was literally full of the wonderful exploits of the aviators. 
The dreams of youth were full of far-off voyages and colonial 
expeditions, and a typical instance was the behaviour of 
Renan's grandson, Lieutenant Ernest Psichari, who threw 
up a promising career to lose himself in the African jungle. 

TtfE EVE d* TtfE WA. 237 

Those who could not go so far off had to content them- 
selves with "action" at home. "Action" was the keynote 
of everything, from the Action Frangaise, which clogged 
the progress of Jaures, to the crowd of enthusiastic youths 
who hung on the words of Marc Sangnier ready to 
manifest at any moment. 

In L'Opinion Henri Massis and Alfred de Tarde, who 
under the joint pseudonym of Agathon were conducting 
an exhaustive campaign against the subversive teaching of 
theuniversity prof essors, particularly those of the Sorbonne, 
were acquiring an immense influence over French youth. 

All these movements had the same motive-force: the 
patriotic revival inaugurated by the articles of Andre 
Lichtenberger; the passion for sport, whose chief literary 
high priest was Georges Rozet; and the taste for modernity 
in everything so ably advocated by the unfortunate 
Raymond Guasco, one of the first to disappear in the 
inferno of 1914. Every one of them felt, however 
vaguely, that they were coming to the end of a certain 
order, that history was preparing to turn over a page. 

How far was the instinctive prevision of these new 
writers, "the new brood", as Marcel Prevost called them, 
effective in stirring the mass of less articulate ordinary 
citizens? Undoubtedly these became infected with a 
general feeling that something was about to happen, and 
the tocsin of 1905 had reminded the country of the fact 
that the menace of war, which most people so hopefully 
believed to have disappeared, was stalking all the while 
behind the scenes of diplomatic courtesy and international 
agreements. Public opinion began to turn from Kchon 
and Clemenceau, and the Agadir incident of 1911 found 
all the people, with the exception of Jaures and the 
Socialist group, solidly ranged behind the Government. 

In his little book with the significant tide of Ibe 
Renaissance of French Pride, published in 1912, M. 
Etienne Rey has written the following: 

"The martial spirit, that inheritance from our past, 
which we have for so long thought to be dead, has 
suddenly burst into flower by a magic germination, and 


in a moment it has become, as in the days of the great 
military states, the motive force of the nation. This 
metamorphosis has been accomplished by the utterance 
of one single word WAR. Before the threat of a 
new conflict our dissensions are healed, our cleavages 
cemented, and our army restored to affection and 
prestige. The French people has declared itself ready 
to face its destiny on the battle-field, and the moral 
force of this conviction has astonished the world. 

"The man of arms has taken his revenge upon narrow 
idealogues and windy pacifists. All those outbursts 
against the horror of war have suddenly ceased, for 
once again men have come to realize the essential civil 
virtue of war, the exaltation which it induces in the 
spirit of mankind. 

"The abiding right to fight for our integrity is again 
demonstrated to us, and we come to lose our belief in 
the virtues of weakness, in the shoddy humanitarianism 
inextricably tangled up with democratic progress. Let 
us be thankful that German arrogance has revealed to 
us in time the proper and salutary use of force, and the 
realization that without it no nation can maintain its 
integrity and its health. During these last years of 
great material prosperity we have acquired almost 
everything in the world save this, and without this, all 
the rest is nothing." 

This rebirth of ideas abandoned for generations, this 
inner need for the salvation of action, found a concrete 
manifestation in the Presidential election of 1913; 

Ten years before, the election would merely have excited 
the usual conventional polemics and parliamentary in- 
trigues, but in 1913 it came out upon a wider field and 
aroused intense excitement throughout the country. 

The two candidates seemed to symbolize in themselves 
the alternative paths which the nation could follow. On 
the one hand, Monsieur Pams, Clemenceau's candidate 
and generally supported by the Left, was a neutral and 
colourless figure, a suitable successor to the Loubets and 
the Fallieres, the figure-head of a kx, easy-going, and flabby 


regime, uninspired by great thoughts and incapable of 
dynamic action. The other, the representative of an 
Eastern department, was a blunt, energetic, and indus- 
trious man, upright and courageous, an expression of the 
new order to which men looked. In Poincare the French 
saw a man who would break with the ignoble tradition of 
weakness, compromise, and defeat, a man who would lift 
up the heads of the people and make them fed that they 
were being governed. It cannot be said that the nation was 
drawn to him by any personal magnetism, but there was 
enough in him to satisfy those who looked for a sterner dis- 
cipline and enough in him to frighten all the Left-wingers, 
all the grafters and the supporters of the Good Com- 
panions' Republic, and all those who were constitutionally 
opposed to any sort of change. 

This gathering of feeling was sensed immediately by the 
experienced nose of Clemenceau, who lost no time in pro- 
claiming his candidate with that intimidating violence 
which had hitherto served him so well. 

It was a hot fight, bitterly contested amid great public 
excitement, and when it was finally declared in favour of 
Poincare everybody felt that a new era was inaugurated. 
There were crowds in the street on the night of the 
election and enthusiastic demonstrations in favour of the 
new President. The rage of Clemenceau knew no bounds, 
but all over the country there rose a great wave of 
confidence and hope. 

The stormy discussion on the three years' service and 
the excited parliamentary sittings which followed gave 
tangible demonstration that the country was persevering 
in its new path. The months immediately preceding the 
outbreak of the war bristled with tumultuous complica- 
tions; the rhythm of life was rising in an infernal cres- 
cendo of tragic events. The Caillaux affair on the one 
hand and the Humbert revelations on the other riveted 
the attention of the scandal-loving and the serious alike, 
while throughout that brilliant summer Parisian society 
revelled and junketed on an unparalleled scale. But the 
shadow of the storm, the cloud now larger than a man's 
hand, crept menacingly over the dazzling scene. 


AND so we come to August 1st 1914, that fateful date 
whose memory oppresses us still. Those who lived through 
those first hours will remember them always, moment by 
moment, as the tragedy unfolded. 

The Austrian trouble, the ultimatum to Serbia, the 
diplomatic pourparlers and the first flamboyant articles in 
the Press, the opening bars of the monstrous symphony. 
And steadily there arose the sound of the uprising people, 
a tremor that shook the earth like the vibration of a 
machine at fuE speed approaching relentlessly from the 

It was the end of July, and the holiday season had 
begun. The railway stations were crowded with care- 
free people who scanned the papers perfunctorily as they 
waited for their trains to go off. Ultimatum? Serbia? 
Germany? How could it be in this magnificent summer, 
at the time when the whole world cried off work and when 
political and social activity was invariably suspended by 
common consent ? "Newspaper talk!" And they shrugged 
their shoulders. 

But as the facts became known and the sequence of 
events developed, Paris began to take- alarm. There were 
groups of people around the newspaper kiosks reading the 
papers anxiously, and the evening issues were snatched up 
as soon as they appeared. 

At last there was no doubt. It was War knocking on 
the gates. The word was in the air and on everybody's 
lips; it kindled men's spirits and quickened their pulses, 
and already it filled some eyes with tears. 

Then on the 1st of August it came, like an awaited 

Towards the end of a magnificent summefr day, about 
five o'clock, with the sun just beginning to climb down 
the sky, the little white mobilization notices appeared. 
And before the working day was over the news had spread 


to tie city's remotest corners. Men stopped working 
hastily, and said, "So it's here." 

An immense crowd gathered in the streets, massing, 
drifting, breaking up, and coming together again in 
greater numbers. Organized bands carrying flags ap- 
peared, and the "Marseillaise" rose to every man's lips 
and burst out like a fanfare of trumpets. 

Then came the attacks upon the German, or alleged 
German, business houses, the shattering sound of breaking 
glass, the looting of shops, and the molestation of sus- 
pected enemy nationals. But as the evening drew on 
Paris became calmer and graver. Shops put up the 
shutters which in many cases were not to be taken down 
for four years; uniforms that had not seen light for years 
appeared on the street; men linked arms and embraced 
each other, while others marched in slow file side by side. 
Passing by doors in quiet streets you could hear the sound 
of sobbing inside. 

At the corner of the street the old shoemaker was 
hammering away ceaselessly, knocking in the huge iron 
nails of the soldiers' shoes. The sound beat on like the 
leitmotiv of the unquiet night. 

Women passed by arm in arm with their men-folk, 
laughing and shouting gaily, "Don't forget to send me 
William's moustache." 

Once again the sound of the "Marseillaise" approached, 
this time chanted from the full throats of a bareheaded 
group about to depart. 

Cars streaked like lightning along the suddenly emptied 
streets. They were already full of soldiers in war kit, a 
memory which we can never again forget. 

The night which, had fallen was so warm and fair, full 
of the scents of summer and with a sky sown with stars. 
Paris stirred and took a deep breath of all this, as if for 
the last time. To-morrow a new life was beginning; our 
old one had been stopped short as a running tap is cut off 
with a sudden turn of the wrist. A catafalque of more 
than night closed down upon the city. 


The first tranced moment passed, and public opinion 
reasserted itself with extraordinary rapidity. To smash 
the windows of German shops might satisfy certain in- 
stincts for an hour or so, but, as the philosopher said of 
indignation, it was hardly a political weapon. As soon as 
the appalling urgencies of the moment were borne in 
upon the people the street disorders immediately stopped. 
There were many who at first could not realize, but little 
by little the whole nation came to understand. During 
four years the war was to lie upon us as a nightmare weighs 
upon your chest, and turn as you may you cannot be 
delivered. Or like a coat of mail encasing you from chin 
to heel so that you cannot move or turn without feeling 
its presence. For this war was without precedent in 
history, a war in which every one of us was in some way 
to be caught up. 

But in those first delirious and incredible weeks the 
paramount sentiment was curiosity. It showed itself in 
a hundred fashions. Masses of people crowded the stations 
to see the troops go off, especially at the Gare du Nord 
and the Gare de ?Est where huge barriers were put up to 
facilitate the incessant flow of the mobilized, who passed 
through them unendingly day and night as though snapped 
up by a trap. 

Then there was the problem of the reservists, called up 
from heaven knows where, drafted all over the place, 
hanging about in unoccupied groups by the schools or 
other buildings convertedinto temporary barracks for them. 

And already in certain places foreign officers had begun 
to arrive. The first Belgian and English troops had 
created great excitement in the north, and anxious Eng- 
lish military officials were going from place to place on 
the innumerable missions connected with the thousand 
and one problems which the military co-operation of two 
nations involves. The first two English officers to appear 
in Bourges, where they had gone to inspect an armament 
factory, were greeted loudly with: "You see the Russians 
are here already. We'll make short work of the Boche." 

But public curiosity was most actively concerned with 
the political situation and the paucity of news, for the 

1914 H3 

censorship had been rigidly established at one swoop and 
the papers could publish nothing but colourless official 
reports which deceived nobody. 

For the first fifteen days the public rushed to buy 
papers, any papers and all papers. "Doesn't matter what's 
in it," said the newsboys as their wares were snatched out 
of their hands, "as long as it's a paper it goes." Some 
enterprising vendors chartered taxis which they stuffed 
full of Intransigeants and plied around the remoter 
suburbs in the hope of selling them at a premium. As a 
matter of fact they rarely got past the fortifications before 
they were raided and sold out. 

The Swiss newspapers enjoyed most remarkable pros- 
perity, for the certainty of being able to read, in the 
journal de Geneve, the enemy communiques so sedulously 
suppressed by the censorship at home, had the advantage 
of keeping the public informed combined with the feeling, 
always so dear to Frenchmen, of going behind the back of 

Other targets for public curiosity arose all round. In 
Paris there was the sight of the Bois turned into a huge 
cattle ground, the strange hush in the streets by day and 
the total darkness by night (ordered since the first alarm 
of enemy aircraft) and the spectacle of women working on 
the Metro. In the ports there was the mobilization of 
the Fleet, and in the frontier towns the constant stream 
of migrants. In other more secluded places people came 
out to watch motor-lorries dropping their cargoes of sus- 
pects into the internment camps for enemy aliens and 
undesirables. On every side the unescapable presence of 
War revealed itself in a thousand and one unexpected details. 

Throughout the country, the sudden mobilization had 
created the utmost confusion in all trades and professions. 
Men had been taken from the fields, from the workshops, 
the counting houses and the banks, and daily and hourly 
problems and difficulties were presented for rough and 
ready solution. 

It need hardly be said that there was absolutely no 
provision for the war behind the lines and people were 
helpless iix front of unprecedented situations. There were 


shops with no one to serve in them, trams and trains with 
no one to drive them, and important business houses with 
no one to direct affairs. Many municipal departments 
and public institutions were left with only the chief and 
an office boy to deal with the crowds who surged day and 
night around their enquiry bureaux. 

All these things had to be taken in hand at once; sub- 
stitutes had to be found somewhere; registers of civilians 
were made out, and men were allocated to positions and 
pkces where they might serve; taxes and duties had to 
be collected, harvests to be gathered in, factories for the 
making of primary necessities to be kept going. Somehow 
or other the communal daily life had to be carried on at 
whatever cost to the individual comfort, and this hard 
necessity was accepted by every one not merely with resig- 
nation but with an active enthusiasm engendered by the 
sense of the national danger. Men and women worked 
together with tireless courage; aged peasant women 
laboured all day in the fields; old men and children 
wheeled carts and drove ploughs; even the halt and the 
lame came out to give their clumsy aid. The nation 
worked together as one man. 

Gradually there began to emerge among the publicists 
certain well-defined states of mind which were to persist 
throughout the duration of the war. 

The first clarion call, soon to degenerate into a ridiculous 
slogan, was Service. 

"Every one must serve, no matter how" (said the 
papers). "Every one must serve however he can and 
wherever he may chance to be. It does not matter 
what you do, but you must do something." 

Advice like this, excellent as it may have been in itself, 
was in the circumstances superfluous, for ever since the 
first days of mobilization a perfect frenzy for "doing 
something" had seized all the men, and still more the 
women, of the capital. 

Numbers of women, unable to discriminate between 
activity and service, embraced the most unsuitable occupa- 
tions. Womeja who had nevet seen an agricultural 

i 9i 4 245 

implement wanted to do harvesting; women who could 
barely drive enrolled as chauffeurs, andotherswhohadnever 
held a needle in their lives sat down to make garments for 
soldiers' children. Some cleaned out barracks and Army 
trucks, while others installed themselves at desks covering 
official forms with their best writing. 

I can remember encountering one lady, in a very smart 
cowboyish turn-out with expensive leather gauntlets, 
piling various implements on a minute cart with the help 
of an ancient maid. Asked what she was doing, she proudly 

"I am going to cart these picks and shovels to the front, 
as I hear they are digging trenches there. Pve got all the 
permits and you'd never believe the trouble I had to 
get them." 

This curious state of mind was more particularly notice- 
able in Paris; in the provinces women did not so com- 
pletely lose their common sense. But even in Paris it did 
not last very long. Gradually it dawned upon even the 
most ardent that the war had come to stay for a very 
long time, that it was a matter for endurance rather than 
action, and that the best thing they could do was to get 
used to it. 

Only the knitting craze remained. Paris turned out 
vests and pants and socks by the million. Needles clicked 
everywhere in buses, in trains, in teashops, and in 
theatres. The more ardent knitted actually while the 
play was in progress and not merely in the intervals. 

When the first outbreak of excitement died down, it 
was succeeded by a curious docility, quite without parallel 
in our history. The most catastrophic disasters were 
received silently and without public demonstration. After 
the first hysterical anti-German riots and the attach on 
one or two Austrian speculators on the Bourse, the de- 
claration of war provoked no acts of civil violence, with 
the exception of the murder of Jaures, which was an 
individual affair. There were no processions in the streets, 
no noisy crowds demonstrating before the Ministries, no 
disorders of any kind. A kind of fatalism seemed to 
atrophy the whole civil population. 


Nothing that the fearful unfurling of the panorama of 
1914 to 1918 revealed seemed to destroy this quietude. 
Neither the disaster of Charleroi, nor the threat to Paris, 
neither the Battle of the Marne nor the hecatombs of 
Verdun, neither the breaking of the front line during the 
kst frenzied German offensive, nor even the final victory, 
provoked any of those scenes of tragedy or joy or any of 
those terrifying outbursts which have continually marked 
our history. 

That the Government should have congratulated itself 
upon the national phlegm was only to be expected. But 
that the state of mind should have appeared at all, and 
that it should have continued right down to the present 
day, is much more remarkable. Is it a fact that a pro- 
found inner transformation has been worked on the 
national character? Have we exchanged restiveness for 
indifference and a dull fatalism for our old unconquerable 
spirit of opposition? 

It is a curious psychological problem which has never, 
so far as I know, been hitherto analysed. Incredible as it 
may seem, patience became the most typical quality of 
the French. Throughout those four fatal years the mis- 
takes of governments and generals passed apparently un- 
heeded by those long queues of people lining up for 
everything bread ration, coal ration, relief; sending- 
parcels, trying to get news. The eternal defile before 
an official grille is our most abiding souvenir of war-time 
behind the lines, from one end of the country to the other. 

It was a tragic defile in some places. In the poorer 
parts of the town, after the first mass invasion of refugees, 
the people would hang around all night, women with 
children in their arms, sitting on the ground, waiting for 
news, leaning against the walls, passing round rumours and 
airing their grievances. Yet there would be no general 
agitations, no outbursts, hardly a voice raised. 

Sights like this which seemed so pitiable at first soon 
became quite normal. 

It must be conceded that very formidable machinery 
had been employed to reduce public excitement. For 
instance, the censorship of the Press had been accepted 

i 9i 4 247 

from the outset without any organized resistance. There 
had been vehement individual protests, such as Clemen- 
ceau's, but they found no echo in the public mind. 
VHomme Enchdine got no more readers than UHomme 
Libre. And although the censorship was often caught out 
in absurdities the public, with exemplary docility, pre- 
tended not to notice. People preferred to keep their ears 
shut than to open them to a hideous reality. 

Apart from the official censorship the newspapers 
received various instructions from the powers that were; 
polite admonitions to preach patience, resignation, and 
calmness to their readers. Never has the perinde ac 
catLaver of the Jesuits been so honoured as during those 
fatal years: see nothing, hear nothing, imagine nothing, 
and believe nothing, outside the official communiques. 
Wait on your destiny and bear all things with the smiling 
face of the Christian who knows that his eternal crown 
is on the other side. For "the eternal crown" read "the 
ultimate victory' 5 ! 

Some zealous persons went further and cultivated 
optimism to the most ridiculous extent. Everything in 
their view was happening for the best. "Joffre beaten 
back?" So much the better: he would be in a stronger 
position. "Lille taken?" So much the better, too costly 
to defend. "Impossible to force the Dardanelles passage?" 
So much the better. This type of mind would, in fact, 
have blandly resigned the whole country to the Germans 
as long as there was one corner left from which they 
could prophesy a sensational come-back to-morrow. 

Finally, this attitude was clamped down upon the people 
by the Government's reiterated assurance, in face of cumu- 
lative misfortunes, that every loss and depredation suffered 
by a French citizen would be made good. "Germany will 
pay" became the formula which deadened the emotions of 
wronged and suffering people, driven from their homes 
and despoiled of their goods. It is useless for us to em- 
phasize the wicked futility of the phrase, and all the brazen 
swindles, bungling schemes, and wasteful extravagances 
which it inspired and was held to justify. It is a formula 
which has never worked when applied to a country which 


has been the actual theatre of war. It is with our own 
labour and with our own money that we have repaid 

But if the French became the most docile of peoples 
they remained still the most loquacious, and tongues 
clacked ceaselessly everywhere. The great army of talkers 
was divided into the two classic camps the optimists and 
the pessimists. Almost before the first shot was fired the 
division was marked out. "War will break out," said one 
lot, and "Not on your life," said the others. "It'll all be 
settled at the last minute." And then, when it was not, 
they said: "Well, so much the better. We shall get rid of 
a nightmare. If we've got to go, let's get on with it." 

That was a sentiment common to both parties, the 
difference being that the optimists were certain we were 
going on to victory while the pessimists were sure that 
we were marching to defeat. 

As a rule the pessimist was the better informed of the 
two. The optimist was content to keep a stiff upper lip 
in the face of adversity; he sought to convert more by 
example than by argument. Once and for all, he had 
reasons for looking on the bright side which were good 
enough for him, and he wasn't going to bolster them up 
by any damned arguments. He neither advanced nor 
retired, and in the long run he was proved to be right. 
And although he never said anything more than "I told 
you so", that most exasperating of statements put the 
finishing touch to the pessimist's discomfiture. 

The peculiar characteristic of the pessimist was that he 
managed to achieve a state of almost perpetual motion. 
Wherever he was, working, talking, or reading, his brain 
searched feverishly for fresh fuel for his arguments and 
worse ills to presage. When he had succeeded in finding 
them, which he invariably did, he rushed off to deposit 
them at the feet of the optimists. The mistakes of the 
Allies and God knows there were enough of them the 
shilly-shallying, the hesitations, the lack of initiative and 
the blunders were seized upon by him with startling 
alacrity and savage joy. The wartime pessimist displayed 
a sort of genius in his incessant research for any bad luck 

i 9i 4 249 

that might be waiting for us in an7 corner of the world. 
Five minutes 5 conversations with a soldier on leave 
sufficed to reveal to him that the troops were badly fed, 
that they had all had enough of it, that there was a short- 
age of munitions and that the number of the dead was 
appalling. Give him ten minutes with any officer above 
subaltern's rank and he would gather that the command 
was disorganized and the plans completely overthrown. 
From a quarter of an hour with any deputy he would 
glean that the Government were prepared to accept peace 
at any price, and two days in the country provided him 
with incontestable proof that we were on the verge of 
famine. If he went over a factory he discovered that the 
workmen were disaffected and that social revolution was 
imminent; if he met a sailor he would certainly come back 
with the news that England was being blockaded. Where- 
ever he went and whomever he met, he gathered disaster; 
he smelt it from afar off; he felt it in his bones. 

And he kept it up till the very end. The Armistice did 
not muzzle him, for he was already prophesying the worst 
possible peace. He foresaw Bolshevism, bankruptcy, and 
the cession of our colonies, and to-day he is still busy 
discovering fresh woes. 

Another much more pestilential type was the dis- 
seminator of false news. The ingenious and patient 
author could compile a whole volume of very curious 
reading from the false rumours which were systematically 
circulated throughout the country from 1914 till the 
end of the war. Right down to the end of the war, 
perhaps even now, there were still people who believed 
Japanese troops came across Scotland via the Arctic 
Ocean, that the big guns which bombarded Paris were 
operated by spies from St. Denis, and that the Pope had 
given a secret audience to the Kaiser. 

No mystery attaches to the transmitters of these 
rumours. They were transmitters pure and simple, acting 
without calculation under the sway of the peculiar 
hypnosis of false news. Even the temperamentally in- 
credulous could not escape the obsession and repeated the 
absurdities they heard just like everyone else. Part of the 


strength of these rumours lay in the fact that at least 
they broke the monotony of the dragging days. They 
were almost as good as an actual happening to men living 
for years in expectation of things which never came off. 

This impression of a never-ending march induced that 
state of boredom which was, in the ultimate analysis, the 
characteristic state of mind behind the front. The 
eternal shuffle obtruded on the consciousness of even the 
busiest and least impressionable men. It irritated them, 
harried them, drove them together. Out of it was born 
that taste for blatant amusement displayed by all the 
soldiers on leave; out of it came the multiplication of 
dance halls, noisy musical shows and breathless and 
strident diversions. It was this also that doubled and 
trebled the army of feverish cigarette-smokers, and which 
drove others who had never hitherto read a line to bury 
themselves in enormous books. Boredom, apathy, a stolid 
resignation in the face of disaster, an immense moral 
lassitude and a total absence of exaltation these are the 
characteristics which seem to us most marked among all 
the non-combatants throughout the World War. 

The two things that most powerfully affected public 
opinion were, first, the departure of the Government for 
Bordeaux, and second, the arrival of the refugees. 

The flight to Bordeaux, modestly designated as "the 
response of the Government of the Republic to the order 
of the Supreme Command", was not regarded as a display 
of panic outside the official world, always too well 
informed and always apprehensive of the worst. The 
general public simply took advantage of an improved train 
service to send their women and children away from the 
capital. "One little lot less for the Prussians," they said 
as the train went out. Those who had prided them- 
selves upon their unflinching patriotism found various 
disingenuous reasons to explain their departure, and when 
mutual acquaintances met, as they often did, on the 
promenade at the same "safe" watering-place, the comedy 
was admirably carried out: 


"What, you here?" 

"Yes, there didn't seem to be any point in changing our 
plans. You see Edward isn't fit for service and he has gone to 
Vichy as usual, and we, as you know, always come here." 

"Exactly the same with us. After all, there's no point 
in interrupting your usual way of living if you can't 
help. ..." 

It was a lucky thing for these gentry that the war 
elected to break out at such a suitable date. 

But the truth was that a number of people were afraid, 
as the railway goods trains could bear eloquent witness. 
All along the Paris-Orleans route were long trains of 
trucks, roughly provided with benches but entirely in- 
adequate to the number of the occupants, many of whom 
sat on trunks or packages, or on the floor. Nobody knew 
when they were leaving or when they were arriving, and 
they were not very much better informed about where 
they were going. There they were jammed together in 
the jolting trucks, doing thirty miles an hour at most. 
Sometimes they would be halted for hours in the middle 
of the open country, and the more sanguine spirits would 
climb out to pick flowers and look round the landscape, 
to be recalled precipitately by the sudden whistle of the 
engine about to start off again. They ate, drank, slept, 
smoked and talked about the war. 

They were all assured of the final victory. Happily 
nothing was ever able to dislodge that magnificent cer- 
tainty from the public mind. But, meanwhile, things 
might be uncomfortable. 

After hours of jolting and creaking they would arrive 
at a station, in the early hours of the morning. Some one 
would unbar the heavy door. 

"Where are we?" 

"Bourges," replied the station master. 

"Bourges? How far's that from Paris?" 

"Too far for the Germans to come and find you," said 
the understanding official, 

"Well, let's get out here." 

"Not me," cried a voice inside. "There's a big 
armament factory here." 


"Is there, damn it? Well, let's go on a bit farther. 
What about Perpignan? That ought to be all right." 

So they all clambered back again. 

In the November and December of the same year the 
migrants came back, almost as uncomfortably as they had 
set out. Crowded carriages with all classes mixed up 
together, men reading the papers out loud, gendarmes, 
baskets of provisions, baggage of all kinds. 

But the Government remained at Bordeaux, where 
were also installed all that section of society which 
revolves round the parliamentary world and the news- 
paper offices. After the sudden alarm and the rather 
precipitate voyage, they were all immensely relieved to 
find themselves so comfortably together again. Con- 
fidence returned, and even a measure of social gaiety. 
They tried the local cuisine and found it good; they gave 
little receptions and dinner-parties, growing in number 
and ekboration. They did at last, settle down to work, 
but the fact remains that those who were installed at 
Bordeaux had a very good war. The rumour of these 
little dinners and parties and of those capacious pockets 
that were being so comfortably lined began to filter 
through to Paris, It percolated all through France, losing 
nothing in the process, and rapidly became a legend. 

"They do themselves well down there," growled dis- 
gruntled and rationed Parisians. 

And "He was at Bordeaux" became an established 

The Government soon realized that it had made a 
blunder in obeying the military edict so dutifully. Its 
return to Paris was as inglorious as its exit. 

A much more poignant spectacle than the flight to 
Bordeaux was the influx of refugees from the invaded 
territory. There was hardly a town in France that did not 
witness it. 

The pitiable troop began to pour into Paris after the 
first few weeks. They found lodging wherever they could; 
in the hotels, whitfi were already full to bursting, in the 

1914 253 

old Saint-Sulpice Seminary, in commandeered buildings, 
and in night shelters. Later on it was found necessary to 
divert them to the provinces, but those who had tasted 
the delights of Paris were loath to depart. Many, of course, 
had found opportunities of work that had never before 
been open to them. 

Refugees, like exiles, have a characteristic state of mind. 
The miracle once again was that they did not protest 
with more rancour and violence, for many of them had 
lost everything. People did what they could to alleviate 
the distress, and the relief funds were constantly aug- 
mented. Many of the refugees who found work loyally 
contributed to the support of their less fortunate fellows. 
For the most part they displayed that industry and 
tenacity which characterize the rather dour folk of the 
Northern and Eastern departments. 

We can recall some touching cases that came within 
our own purview. There was one woman refugee from a 
Northern department whose husband had been mobilized 
within a few hours of the declaration, and who had had 
to fly at once with her children without time to take away 
more than a few thousand francs sewn in her blouse. The 
family had been very prosperous, the husband having 
owned a chain of local shops. 

The poor woman arrived in Paris with the crowd of 
refugees, with no friends and no knowledge of the capital, 
and found a position at length as assistant in the municipal 
offices of a working-class quarter, where her job was to 
hand out coal-tickets to needy applicants. All day long 
she worked alone in an enormous room perpetually invaded 
by loud-mouthed harridans, exasperated by war-time 
restrictions and privations, who threatened to submerge 
her every minute. 

One day, through some administrative muddle, the coal- 
tickets did not arrive and the unfortunate woman was 
physically assaulted by the bellowing furies, who clawed 
at her and spat in her face. With magnificent calm, how- 
ever, she declined the assistance which was sent to clear 
the room, and faced her assailants without flinching. She 
dominated the assembly by sheer will, but when the last 


virago had departed she collapsed in a paroxysm of sobbing. 
We learnt then that she had heard only that morning that 
her husband had died in captivity. 

Such recitals could be furnished by the thousand. They 
demonstrate not only the fortitude of the refugees but 
also the persistence with which, even under the cloak 
of the all-pervading apathy, the French continued to 
encourage their everlasting internecine rancours. This 
was plainly shown by the alacrity with which accusations 
of cowardice or espionage were hurled at any apparently 
youngish man who was not in uniform. Clemenceau put 
himself at the head of this curious movement, and the 
harrying of "slackers" became almost a national pastime, 

At the town hall mentioned previously we heard a 
matron from Belleville reviling a one-armed employee who 
had not attended to her quickly enough, and shrieking out 
that he was a shirker and a coward. 

Somebody pointed out that the man was a soldier who 
had lost an arm. 

"Well, what about it?" she screeched. "My old man's 
lost both!" 

By the end of 1914 it became apparent that the French- 
man's ideal, whether he was in or behind the lines, might 
be set out as follows: 

"All the combatants to be of the same rank, in the same 
trenches situate in the same place and receiving at the 
same time the same wound in the same part of the body." 



THE return of the Government to Paris and the establish- 
ment of a more or less fixed line of trenches marked the 
fact that the war was passing into its second phase. It was 
now a matter of common knowledge that it was going 
to last for many months, perhaps even for years, as the 
English maintained, and that social life had got to be 
adapted to it. Business must be carried on "as usual". 

Those women who had been the first to proclaim the 
need for universal service with so much excitement and 
hysteria were the first to abandon their nurses' uniforms 
and their mechanics' overalls and to take up the life which 
they had so summarily abandoned. They were content 
to buy their ration cards and to practise strategy on 
the more limited domestic field, but with just the same 
vehemence. There were, of course, pknty of devoted 
women who faithfully carried on the work they had under- 
taken in 1914, but those who had made most noise about 
it faded very quickly out of the military scene. 

The first evidence of the new state of affairs was that 
the theatres reopened. The Comedie Fran9aise was one 
of the first to resume activity, and it opened triumphantly 
with Corneille's Horace before an audience quick to rise to 
the topical implications of the tragedy. The Opera did 
not lag behind, and Mademoiselle Chenal began to sing 
the "Marseillaise" which she was doomed to reiterate for 
four long years. One by one all the theatres came to life 

The Government raised no objections; on the contrary, 
it approved entirely. For the artists had to live, and 
money had to circulate if there was to be any available for 
rates and taxes and loans. And the lucky possessors of 
Paris leave must be given some compensating pleasure for 
their sufferings and privations. 

This regular system of leave was one of the rare happy 
ideas of the High Command. Rivers of ink had flowed on 


the subject, and the soldier on leave is still one of the most 
vivid memories of the time. His return created immense 
excitement among his friends and neighbours; everybody 
with the slightest acquaintance came to see and to question 
him. They bore it all with touching modesty, these men 
temporarily reprieved from the hell of the trenches for so 
short a period; these men who had suffered so much and 
who had yet so much more to suffer. They established a 
kind of moral liaison between the front line and the non- 
combatants, more powerful than any correspondence, 
however intimate and regular. And their presence com- 
forted others as much as it heartened themselves. 

There were some tragedies. The temptations which 
their wives experienced during those long absences, the 
necessity, often, of earning their daily bread in uncon- 
ventional ways, the thousand and one ruptures of the 
beloved routine of the peaceful years so ardently yearned 
for by the men cut off from it all these things caused 
shocks, disappointments, and bitter surprises. Some men 
went back to the front sadly disillusioned. 
. It will not surprise those who have followed the trend 
of public opinion to learn that the first sign of reviving 
life in the world of amusement should be an enormous 
growth in the popularity of the musical comedy. During 
the years immediately preceding the war it had held its 
own, but no more, with newer and more original enter- 
tainments; but with the outbreak of hostilities it again 
mounted the pinnacle of public favour. The men on 
leave demanded light music, more light music, and 
nothing but light music. And the people behind the 
lines, with the crowd of neutral and Allied nationals 
already residing in Paris, were well content to second them. 

It is quite futile for moralists to censure this taste as 
ignoble. It was perfectly natural that men who had been 
playing a part in one of the most dreadful spectacles of 
human history should not desire to re-encounter blood- 
shed and strife behind the footlights. They had no taste 
for vicarious carnage. They wanted singing, dancing, 
light comedy or even crude farce, and the stimulant of 
a perpetual rhythm to beat down consciousness. 


The dancing craze had not yet come, but it was well on 
the way; and the jazz band, its formidable ally, was already 
making its first stammering assault upon the citadel which 
after the war it was to conquer so completely. Already 
in private houses couples were trying out the one-step and 
the tango to the accompaniment of the new syncopated 
music, with its strident notes, its wails and its rumblings, 
its monotonous assault upon the senses. 

On the stage, as we have said, musical comedies and 
revues had it all their own way. They were played nightly 
to crowded and enthusiastic houses which included as 
many uniforms as civilian coats. In the passages and 
foyers the wounded and mutilated elbowed more for- 
tunate heroes, and the brief moment of pleasure gained 
an additional savour by contrast with the fate which 
waited on them. 

The afternoon performances were more crowded than 
the evening, for the suspension of the omnibus services 
and the dearth of taxis made it well-nigh impossible to get 
about Paris by night. Night-time in Paris during the war 
was a sight never to be forgotten by those who saw it. As 
the threat from enemy aircraft increased, the street lights 
grew fewer and dimmer, until at last the whole town was 
plunged into virtual darkness. There were no friendly 
lights streaming down from the windows, no lamps along 
the streets; and no car dared to show its headlights. Nothing 
revealed the presence of the great city to the hostile sky, 
and one might almost have thought oneself back in the 
Paris pf three centuries before. Under the frosty skies of 
the winter of 1917, or in the star-swarming nights of the 
following spring, the buildings reared up out of the for- 
midable shadow while the gardens stood out luminously 
like blobs of Chinese white. The streets, almost entirely 
empty after seven o'clock, gave an impression of utter 
desertion, a gargantuan Appian Way. 

Sometimes the appearance of the enemy aircraft would 
shatter the silence of the night, but on the whole these 
raids, which were most frequent during the last year of the 
war, did not do any serious damage, and the bombard- 
ments of the long-range guns were too infrequent and 



spasmodic to cause much alarm. The military authori- 
ties found it easy, thanks to our newly discovered charac- 
teristic of docility, to impress the necessity of taking cover 
successfully on the population, and the newspapers, with 
that co-operation which they manifested so unfailingly 
in matters of this kind, exhorted their readers to obey the 
special orders. It became the first duty of every patriot 
to rush for shelter as soon as the warning sirens were heard. 
It was a new method of serving one's country, and it was 
avidly taken up by all the same women who had rushed in 
as temporary nurses, soldiers' godmothers and knitters of 
perpetual socks. It was no use trying to tell these people 
that the actual risks of these air-raids were negligible; that 
many of them were, in fact, abortive; and that one was 
much more likely to get something undesirable from 
being shut up in an underground cellar with a miscellan- 
eous crowd of all sorts and conditions. They would only 
reply with a scornful look which stamped you at once as 
a bad Frenchman a spy, even. 

The public will follow any lead like sheep, and hence 
there occurred, in the more crowded and poorer quarters, 
those lamentable spectacles of old and infirm people 
carried out on their mattresses down to the chilly concrete 
cellars, where they were jostled and walked over by crowds 
of factory girls and urchins keeping up their courage by 
bawling out the latest popukr songs. 

But although business might be as "usual", there were 
certain general restrictions imposed upon the nation. It 
is true that the bread and sugar tickets did not provoke 
public disturbances any more than the restriction of 
restaurant meals to two courses, but the habitual in- 
discipline of the French induced numbers of people to 
expend immense ingenuity in various shifts to get their 
rations increased. The attempt to "wangle" extra sugar 
became a recognized and immensely popukr national 

There were all sorts of stories about the hoarding of 
provisions. There was the well-known tale of the woman 
who had filled her bath with sugar, until an inadvertently 
released plug gave the game away. Anonymous letters 


flowed in upon the harassed officials, and certain factions 
loudly demanded a house-to-house search for hoarded 

The bitterly severe winter of 1917-18 raised a much 
more serious problem, that of the shortage of coal. By 
a combination of circumstances the commandeering of 
goods trains and the inability of boats to come up thef 
Seine the citizens found themselves unable to obtain even 
the meagre fuel ration allotted to them, and the whole 
city turned out in a mad quest for coal. Elegantly dressed 
persons might be seen carrying with infinite care a little 
bag of coal not much bigger than a packet of chocolates. 
To be personally acquainted with a firewood merchant 
became the most signal blessing of heaven. And just as 
all sorts of people were looking for fuel, so all sorts began 
selling it, for it is one of the mysteries of commerce that 
as a commodity grows scarcer its sellers increase. Weird 
combinations of merchandise could be found at every 
street corner: old women sold vegetables and firewood 
together, weighing onions and logs on the same scales 
No hostess could offer a more seductive inducement to 
visitors than "a good fire"* 

The great game in restaurants was to devise a way of 
getting more than two courses. It was an ironic coinci- 
dence that the gastronomic craze which was to go to 
such fantastic lengths on the outbreak of peace first began 
to develop at the time of the food restrictions. Some- 
times we are inclined to wonder whether it was not the 
restrictions themselves which made the subject of food 
of such overwhelming importance to people* Nothing is so 
seductive as a delicacy which cannot be obtained, and the 
tendency to despise ordinary household fare became more 
and more marked. Dining out became increasingly 
frequent, and prices soared in proportion. 

Vainly the puritans raised their voices against the new 
times and manners. Their bitterest wrath was aroused 
by the tea-shops which were springing up everywhere in 
the city. They foamed at the mouth at the thought of 
throngs of people crowding round gimcrack tables stuffing 
themselves with cakes while the nation fought for its life. 


But despite all the attemps to ostracize them, the tea- 
rooms increased in numbers and popularity, assisted, no 
doubt, by the ever-growing influx of foreign soldiers to 
the capital, and particularly by the advent of the Ameri- 
cans in 1917. 

The tea-hour also coincided with the official time for 
issuing the day's bulletins, so that the tea-shops became 
the natural rendezvous for people discussing the news and 
trying to read between the lines of the sibylline com- 
muniqufo, when these were not summed up in the now 
proverbial "All quiet on the Western Front". Rumour 
and speculation seethed round the steaming teapot and the 
underlying leitmotiv of it all was "How long is it going 
to last?" Naturally every man, and more particularly 
every woman had his or her own private channel of 
information, some very substantial personal grounds for 
believing this or that. 

They discussed the strategic advantages of the respec- 
tive battle-lines, the merits and demerits of all the 
ministers and all the generals, while everybody quoted 
from his favourite newspaper. And as all the latter 
repeated every morning what they had said the day 
before, there was, as may be imagined, little original specu- 
lation among all this gossip. 

One of the most ludicrous instances of the sheep-like 
tendencies of democracy was the way in which the public 
applauded the most banal ideas disseminated by the 
officially instigated Press as conceptions of the greatest 
military genius and originality. Such dear old parrot- 
cries as "Our aim must be to isokte the Central Powers", 
and "We must divert the enemy to the East", were re- 
garded as the supreme discoveries of military strategy, were 
seized upon and elaborated with such alacrity that every- 
body believed that he himself had discovered them, until 
M. Briand derided to make it quite clear that the credit 
was really his. "We must devote ourselves to the mass 
production of munitions." Surely the author of that 
magnificent and unexpected cry deserved well of his 
country? It is true that it took two years before any one 
thought of adding "and aircraft" to it. "Talk to no one 


and suspect every one", that oracular pronouncement of 
M. Millerand's, was plastered up everywhere as if espionage 
had never been heard of before 1914. 

Several references have already been made to the curious 
practice of "adopting" soldiers. It was not a bad idea in 
itself, for a national war protracted to such length, the 
extreme boredom of the trenches, and the number of 
unfortunates who were either friendless or whose families 
were too poor to send them the regular parcels of pro- 
visions and comforts which made life in the line just 
supportable, all made it desirable that some link should be 
established between those who were fighting for their 
country and the life they had left behind them. So it 
became the custom to write to company commanders 
asking for the names of lonely and friendless soldiers and 
to adopt one of them as a war-time "godson". 

Like so many war-time institutions it was first seized on 
with enthusiasm and afterwards allowed to die of neglect. 
Women -rushed in to write long and cheerful letters to 
lonely men at the front, and parcels of food and clothing 
were dispatched to grateful recipients. Men on leave who 
had no homes of their own went to stay with their "god- 
mothers", who showered amusements and favours on them 
in order to make them forget. At first the scheme was 
carried out in perfect propriety, but it was obvious that 
it contained potentialities likely to cause trouble in our 
frail human nature. The arrival of the soldier to find a 
young and seductive godmother waiting for him on the 
station became one of the standing stage jokes. 

For it was inevitable that certain lonely feminine hearts 
should seek to find soul-mates by this heaven-sent means. 
By an amusing reversal of custom it was the lady whose 
desires became imperative, and the pursuit of handsome 
godsons became a favourite diversion of certain circles. 
One paper quite frankly offered its services in establishing 
relations between lonely charmers and the gallant airmen 
and officers of our Allies, The Vie Parisienne, Marcellin's 
old paper, which had been for fifty years one of the most 
amusing chronicles of the life of the boulevards, became 
suddenly the most widely circulated paper along the whole 


Allied Front. Its charming ladies in undress, with more 
or less provocative labels, its light-hearted and imperti- 
nent stories, were the favourite decoration for dug-outs 
and the favourite reading of soldiers from the Channel to 
Verdun, and its small advertisements became the estab- 
lished medium by which the gallant battalions of Paris 
signified their appreciation of the gallant battalions of the 
Western Front. What these alliances lacked in perma- 
nence they undoubtedly made up for in ardour, and 
godmotherly embraces can seldom have been so warm and 
so satisfying. 

It was the fashion to wear an engagement ring, one of 
those bands of shrapnel which the soldiers themselves cut 
out with their knives from exploded enemy projectiles. 

The dearest hope of every one of these "godmothers" 
was to acquire a foreign officer, preferably an American. 
From the early days of the war various foreign uniforms 
had added a picturesque note to the streets of Paris. First 
there were the Belgians with their quaint red and gold 
caps which the women adopted as the fashion for a season. 
Then followed the crowds of English officers, whose smart 
kit was so very much admired. . The gallantry of the 
Serbians touched all hearts, but the Russians were really 
the most popular of all the Allied troops with the French 
people, right down to the infamous treaty of Brest- 
Litvosk. For so many hopes had been placed upon the 
prodigious reserves of Russia; men had tried to number its 
incalculable potential soldiers, its magnificent cavalry, its 
indomitable infantry. "The Russian steam-roller", that 
beautiful cliche of the Press, had rolled its way over French 
good sense. "Five days, and then Berlin", was the slogan 
of that great Russian offensive which was to flow over the 
enemy Hke the sea through broken dykes. There was a 
genuine mystical element in this universal faith in Russia. 
The rare occasions when Russian troops actually marched 
through the city, their deep, sonorous voices chanting 
their sad, majestic songs, were among the most moving 
spectacles of the war. 

It is a fact that all the troops who marched through 
Paris invariably received a frenzied welcome, for the 


Government, solicitous as it was to preserve morale behind 
the lines by every means in its power, was curiously nig- 
gardly with one of the most effective, and gave Parisians 
very few opportunities of actually seeing the men who 
were fighting for them. This partly accounts for the 
frenzied reception given to the Americans on that beau- 
tiful fourth of July 1918, their Independence Day, when 
they marched down the Champs-Elysees beneath the 
chestnut trees. It was one continual ovation, from the 
Place du Trocadero to the Place de la Concorde. 

But if there were few organized marches, the streets of 
Paris were always full of the soldiers of the Allies, their 
numbers and variety increasing every year. A favourite 
meeting-place was the Cafe de la Paix at cocktail-time, 
when the representatives of a world at arms could be seen 
gathered round the tables. 

The foreign soldier was also a very popular figure in 
the dance-halls, which had already begun to spring up 
like mushrooms. The arrival of the American, with his 
pockets bursting with dollars, ousted from their earlier 
supremacy the more handsome Australians and the more 
masculine Portuguese. The freedom with which the 
Americans spent their money not only marked them out as 
a prey for undesirables, but set a bad example to the whole 
of the civilian population. From their appearance dates 
the first sensational rise in the cost of living, which did 
not, unfortunately, fall with their departure. 

"Business as usual' 9 raised a number of other problems: 
that of the slackers, which we have already referred to in 
connection with the first alarms of 1914, but which was 
more or less pressing throughout the whole period of 
hostilities. Then there was what was known as "the silk- 
stocking question" over which so much ink was spilled. 
And finally there were the war profiteers, who aroused 
the ire of the moralists and the envious admiration of the 

Ardent patriots, feminine or middle-aged, still main- 
tained that every individual not in the front-line trenches 


with his breast exposed to the enemy's fire was a skcker. 
To be in any other form of national service, to be making 
munitions or carrying on an essential trade, was no excuse 
in their eyes. Staff officers, quartermasters, and aeroplane 
mechanics attached to hangars behind the lines were 
regarded with suspicion. The extent of this state of mind 
may be gauged from the fact that in one single quarter of 
1915 over 30,000 letters of denunciation were received by 
the authorities in Paris. Little by little this insane sus- 
picion abated, but it was always under the surface ready 
to break out again if any service or institution proposed 
to draft men from the front for other purposes, however 

The creation of the Press Bureau was an instance of this. 
With Clemenceau at their head, all the super-patriots 
fell upon this institution, which was afterwards shown 
to have played a determining part in the success of 
the Allies 5 propaganda. Inspected, sub-inspected, over- 
whelmed with orders and instructions, harried perpetually 
by conflictory and countermanded orders, abused, de- 
nounced, and subjected to humiliating surveillance, the 
members of the propaganda mission lived in a state of 
perpetual apprehension. Politicians also took a hand in 
the game, and in 1918 the furious Clemenceau drove the 
general staff into the trenches, plunging the command 
into disorder for several weeks. But the super-patriots 
recked not of the consequences; their simple object was to 
drive all the people into the firing-line, only sequestering 
the aged and women and children. 

The "silk-stocking question" was the problem of the 
women munition-workers who earned large sakries and 
spent them, it was said, almost exclusively on silk stockings 
and fur coats, to the shame and detriment of the race. 

It was not without its element of truth, of course. It 
certainly was true that these women bought up all the 
best meat in the working-ckss quarters and raided the 
perfume and luxury departments of the less exclusive 
department stores. The craze for cheap luxury was not 
nearly so predominant as it was to become later, after 
the war, but the seed was germinating fast, and to 


old-fashioned people and strict moralists the tendency 
was summed up by one article silk stockings. 

Skirts were becoming shorter and shorter, with the 
inevitable result that stockings became more and more 
important. The silk-stocking craze was not launched 
merely by feminine frivolity; its origin was in the sensual 
desires of men, proclaimed with the cynical outspokenness 
which was the key-note of the moment. 

There remains to be considered the war profiteer. He 
had not yet taken shape as the vulgar rich man whom we 
were to know and to resent so keenly after the peace, but 
he was beginning to emerge from the shadow. Grocers, 
coal merchants, carpenters, and mechanics who had the 
acumen to convert their little workshops into shell-turning 
or other factories of war materials, lessees of cafes and 
restaurants, and a whole army of buyers and sellers were 
busy making money half suspected in the shade, like white 
ants carrying out their depredations in obscurity. From 
the suddenly enriched peasant to the pawnbrokers and 
moneylenders who preyed on the new poor, and exploited 
the refugees, an army of people of every conceivable trade 
and profession were animated by a feverish desire for gain 
which turned all heads and stifled all consciences. This 
is the ultimate tableau of the war-time scene; a communal 
ditch in which all were equally up to their necks. The 
earlier efforts of the Revolution and the Directory were 
trifling by comparison with this wholesale orgy which was 
to be revealed in all its fullness when the curtain fell on 
the firing-line when the Armistice was signed. 

There was another aspect of this business of carrying on 
the war which must be dealt with here. What was Par- 
liament doing all this time? 

The record of its activities, particularly during the 
first three years of the conflict, is a sombre one. The 
politicians began well. They forswore party bickerings 
and formed themselves into the famous "Union Sacree", 
determined to pull together and act as one man until the 
common purpose of the Allied armies in beating back and 
defeating the invader was achieved. 

Whatever salutary effect this gesture might have had 


upon the public was vitiated by the famous "flight to 
Bordeaux", and still more by the rumours which began 
to filter through regarding the junketings which were said 
to go on there. As for the "Union Sacree", it was not 
very long before this began to dissolve into the usual party 
acerbities. The Socialists, who before the hostilities 
began had accepted the word of the German Social 
Democrats that the socialist faith knew no frontiers (the 
world knows with what alacrity these Germans responded 
to the call to arms), were the first to break the truce to 
party strife. They refused to vote the war credits, and 
were quickly labelled defaitistes. 

Other groups followed their example, and in time any- 
thing like cohesion in the matter of ensuring the existence 
of a Government was out of the question. France had 
five Premiers during the war. M. Viviani, the first, found 
it impossible to carry on for any length of time in spite of 
his oratorical gifts and his personal magnetism. M. Briand, 
who was his Minister of Justice, succeeded him, but his 
silvery oratory and his power of persuasion failed him, and 
he went down in turn. M. Ribot, noted for his sincerity 
and courtly manners, formed the third War Cabinet, 
which practically died at its birth. Something like con- 
fusion among the politicians was now apparent. Decidedly 
the parliamentary machine was getting out of hand. It 
could not respond to the well-meant efforts made to 
secure its stability and smooth running. In addition to 
the intrigues inside the Chamber of Deputies there were 
forces at work outside which were seriously hampering 
Ministers. The organizers of some of these forces were 
quite candid as to the aim of their agitation, which was to 
bring the war to an end as speedily as possible, however 
inglorious this course would be for France and her Allies; 
others were suspect so much that when M. Painleve, the 
mathematician, was called to the premiership, he, knowing 
the sort of propaganda that was undermining the morale of 
the country, threatened to take action against the propa- 
gandists, however highly placed they might be. A man 
of tireless activity, a glutton for work, M. Painleve essayed 
to achieve the impossible. The fortunes of war in the 


rear and at the front were against him, and he fell in the 
darkest hour of the struggle, when the horrible fear was 
creeping into the hearts of Frenchmen and shrewd foreign 
observers that conceivably France might be put out of 
the war. 

What was the actual situation at this grave moment in 
1917? Sections of the French Army were discouraged to 
demoralization. There were desertions, insurrections, and 
executions. Behind the lines stop-the-war propaganda 
was in full swing. That vile sheet, the Bonnet Rouge, fed 
with German money, did considerable mischief before its 
publication was stopped, and its editor, Duval, the suc- 
cessor of the notorious Almereyda, who was supposed to 
have committed suicide in prison, was shot at Vincennes, 
as Mata Hari, the dancer, Bolo and Lenoir, convicted of 
working for Germany, were shot. DuvaPs execution was 
the end of the story of the cheque for a million francs 
which Marx, the Mannheim banker, sent to the Bonnet 
Rougty but which was intercepted at the Swiss frontier. 
Both M. Ribot and M. Painleve knew of the efforts, 
insidious and untiring, made to force France to abandon 
the struggle, and they did their utmost to frustrate them, 
but they could not get at the unseen forces that were 
working to paralyse the French effort. 

Who at this moment of serious peril was the man best 
suited to carry on the Government and infuse vigour into 
the prosecution of the war ? He was found in the man who 
had been the severest critic of the preceding Govern- 
ments, who long before the war had established for him- 
self an unenviable reputation as a smasher of Cabinets, 
a venomous fighter, a vitriolic writer, rude, gruff, and 
cynical of manner no other than Georges Clemenceau. 

Clemenceau made his bow to an excited and not entirely 
sympathetic Chamber: a Chamber, however, which was 
visibly beset by fear of the painful situation gradually 
becoming worse. He had no claims to oratory, but when 
he began to read his declaration of policy he compelled 
attention by the matter and manner of his speech. "*Je 
fais la guerre" he declared with passion, and he soon let it be 
seen that his idea of making war was not merely to deliver 


bellicose speeches in the Chamber and chastise with his 
mordant tongue deputies who did not agree with him. 
This rough-spoken septuagenarian with the bushy eye- 
brows, unruly white moustache and curious swiftly moving 
eyes with never a glimmer of a smile in them knew that 
he had two vital things to do: to inspire the Army with 
courage and to restore confidence in the rear. Even those 
Frenchmen who, remembering his past, could never bring 
themselves to admire him, had to admit that he accom- 
plished both. 

Clemenceau believed in the direct method. He took 
the argument from the Chamber to the Front, touring 
the lines, talking in his blunt way to officers and men, 
praising here, and exploding there, but impressing on 
every one the necessity for making war ruthlessly and 
single-mindedly. Whatever the exact military value of 
his recommendations and interventions, it cannot be 
denied that, like Lloyd George in England, he did an 
enormous amount to restore confidence, both in the line 
and behind it. In times of stress the human mind is 
simplified; it responds to the direct and the obvious, if 
only it is reiterated forcibly enough. And force had never 
been lacking in Clemenceau "the Tiger", now to be hailed 
as "Pere la Fictoire". 

It was harder to deal with the civilians than with the 
soldiers. It was harder still to deal with the politicians. 
The climax was reached when, in a dramatic debate on the 
allegations of German influence within the Chamber itself, 
Clemenceau arraigned Joseph Caillaux. The latter, an 
able and level-headed man, defended himself in a two- 
hours' speech, but all the same he was arrested and taken 
to the Sante Prison. Whatever the merits or demerits of 
the Caillaux affair, it certainly taught the deputies that 
no one was immune. They no longer speculated as to 
how long Clemenceau would last. Most of them trans- 
ferred their speculations nearer home. 

Not that it was ever plain sailing for him. The constant 
seething of party hatred and suspicion was never entirely 
quelled. In a general sense he had the people with him, 
but he had few real friends. Many fervent patriots of the 


Right could not forgive his former rabid anti-clericalism; 
many Radicals considered that he had betrayed his con- 
victions, and many influential people were offended by 
his rough manners and essential egalitarianism. It was 
infuriating to them, when they called to see Clemenceau, 
to be turned over almost contemptuously to his secretary. 
This was Georges Mandel, who had been with him on 
UHomme Libre (afterwards UHomme Enchain/), and 
in whom Clemenceau reposed the fullest confidence. 
Mandel, who afterwards became a very efficient minister, 
was in fact the real dictator of France during this period, 
giving orders on his own authority, keeping watch on the 
newspaper censorship, and even on the ministers them- 
selves. He was one of Clemenceau's few intimates; he 
knew his mind and thought and acted for him. He did 
not even mind incurring the old man's displeasure. 

Only a man of Clemenceau's temperament and energy, 
a born fighter, indifferent to criticism, stubborn as a mule, 
curt, suspicious and parsimonious with his confidence, and 
above all, sure of himself and of his policy, could have 
won through as Clemenceau did. Happily this was under- 
stood by the two other great Frenchmen who helped 
to engineer the final victory Raymond Poincare, the 
President of the Republic, and Marshal Foch, the Allied 
Commander-in-Chief . Greatly as their opinions in many 
respects differed from his, they recognized in him the 
force of will by which alone great things can be carried 
through. The dour Lorrain lawyer and the devout 
Catholic soldier stood with him to the end. Intriguers 
tried to upset him time and again; but he was too strong 
.and too wily for them; the parliamentary game, which he 
had once played so cynically, had no traps for him. 

He had his moments of anxiety. But even in 1918, 
when the Germans launched their last furious attack, 
when the banks sent their securities out of Paris to Bor- 
deaux and Avignon; when there was talk of the Govern- 
ment removing again to Nantes, Tours, or Angers the 
old war-horse refused to budge. "Us ne fasseront pas" 
And they did not. 

When the tide turned at last, and the Germans were 


compelled to sue for an armistice, Clemenceau readied 
the pinnacle of triumph. He had saved the morale of 
France, he had brought her through to victory, and the 
Chamber which he had bullied, arraigned, and implored 
so often put it on record that he had bitn meritt de la 

Armistice was signed on that historic and radiant 
autumn day, November I ith 1918, which the whole world 
remembers. The weather was fine, with a little light 
mist, and from the moment that the city awakened it 
was waiting for the great news. About ten o'clock the 
rumour began to spread, and soon it was officially con- 
firmed. Everybody seemed to know it at once. By some 
mysterious agency all work stopped; the doors of factories 
and workshops flew open as if struck by a magic wand 
and the whole population flocked out. 

By common instinct they made for the boulevards in 
enormous crowds, growing larger as they approached the 
heart of the city. You saw them pour into the Place de la 
Concord, an irresistible mass fed by a hundred tributaries. 
They climbed upon the enemy cannons, gathered round 
the Strasbourg memorial, beat against the walls of the 
Tuileries an immense, unorganized, intoxicated crowd, 
driven by a desire to shout, to cry aloud, to run or to 
climb up something. Every one was singing the "Mar- 
seillaise" or "Madelon"; when one group stopped another 
took up the refrain. A confused and terrifying clamour 
rose up, compounded of shouts and cheers, the exploding 
of fireworks, the shrieking of whistles and the excited 
cries of the women as they were seized and embraced. 
Now and then a salute from a cannon punctuated the 

It went on until nightfall, when the first timid appear- 
ance of unveiled lamps brought back to Parisians the fact 
that their lights were being restored. Very sparingly, of 
course, but it seemed a dazzling illumination to people 
who for years had lived in a perpetual semi-darkness. A 
thunder of cheers broke out as the lamps were lit. 

When night fell on the boulevards the scene was like a 
primitive orgy of unbridled licence and, joy. Women slid 


from one group to another, pressing up against the sol- 
diers, offering themselves with a simplicity which drove 
out grossness and offence. Paris was beside itself. 

The captured cannons in the Place de la Concorde wit- 
nessed the strangest scenes that night. Men sang and 
danced round them, addressed them with frenzied 
rhetoric, taunting them with their impotence. Women 
climbed upon them and fifteen or twenty men with the 
strength of frenzy drew them through the crowds. The 
wonder is that no one was injured, for the following 
morning the guns were found abandoned by the fortifi- 
cations. In the cafes and restaurants there were junket- 
ings unparalleled, improvised dances in all the public 
squares. They leapt and shouted and danced to any kind of 
music, violins, trombones, accordions, and barrel-organs. 

The nation was released! 



THE jazz-band was playing. Banjoes, violins, clarinets, 
slide trombones, and pianos unchained the battery of 
rag-time, one-steps and blues, preposterous breathless 
music with a monotonous and elementary rhythm, nervous, 
chaotic, garish, like the symphony of 'manners which it 
introduced. The wail of the saxophone drowned all 
musical criticism; the world was given up to the macabre 
dance into which the negro pkyers wreathed their hot 
and deliquescent fantasies. They were the conductors of 
the infernal rout in which Paris rocked and swayed. 

Nobody wanted to do anything but dance, dance, and 
keep on dancing. Dancing at all the receptions, dancing 
at home, dancing in the hundreds of dance-halls that had 
sprung up on every side. Dancing in the restaurants, 
where people could no longer wait till the end of their 
dinner, but leapt up convulsively at the first blast of the 
orchestra. Dancing between the courses, dancing almost 
between mouthfuls, young couples, middle-aged couples, 
couples with white hair. There were more than two 
hundred schools of dancing in the capital alone, all 
advertising proficiency in ten lessons. 

The jazz-band never slept. How many dance-clubs 
were there in Paris? More than anybody could compute, 
three or four next door to each other in one street, in 
every street. Most of them charged no entrance fee, but 
it was compulsory to order a bottle of champagne. You 
danced with anybody, dispensing with introductions. 
There were a number of handsome young professional 
dancers attached to the establishment for the purpose of 
entertaining elderly wallflowers, or young ones for that 
matter. You slid a note in their hands after half an hour 
or so and then passed on to another. Everybody passed 
on, to another partner, another table, another pkce! 

How long did all this madness last? For months, years 
even, Ip. fact it has hardly died down now. 



After dancing, eating was the popular passion. People 
first began to display an inordinate interest in food when 
it was hard to get, but after the Armistice it became the 
fashion sedulously to cultivate gastronomy. There was 
a mad race between the restaurants, the dance-halls, 
and the banks to snap up every available site in the 

The exotic or the old-world was the favourite note in 
decoration. "Grill-rooms", "Gardens", and "plantations" 
were all the rage, but the genus "ancient hostelry" was 
the most popular of all. The walls of Paris bristled with 
all the curious fauna of gastronomic heraldry the wild 
ducks, the prawns, the escargots, the chickens-in-pots, the 
red donkeys and the white horses of yester-year. 

Inside, you took your meals beside great open fires with 
chicken and joints roasting on spits. Regional dishes were 
much in demand, everybody advertised Provenfal, Flemish, 
Alsatian, or Marseillais cooking. Every diner imagined 
himself a Brillat-Savarin and entered into lengthy and 
florid discussions about the merits of the dishes. People 
compared notes, exchanged recommendations or warnings, 
and that celebrated gourmet, Louis Forest, founded the 
Club des Cent Kilos with the object of encouraging and 
promoting good living by compiling a register of good and 
bad restaurants. 

Grocers, provision merchants, restaurateurs and wine- 
merchants had the time of their lives. Even the profits 
which they had amassed during the war at the expense of 
the simple American were as nothing to the harvest now 
coining into their hands. But who was not making money 
in those first mad months of the peace? Anybody who 
had anything to sell was making a fortune, for they could 
sell it at any price they liked. A rain of batik-notes flooded 
the Paris streets. 

But the face of Paris still wore its exotic mask. Foreign 
uniforms still crowded the streets, recalling on every side 
the years we had just passed through. And a number of 
things which had sprung up during the war had taken 
permanent root and jarred the susceptibilities of old- 
fashioned Parisians. 


The old horse-cabs, which were on the verge of dis- 
appearance in 1914, had now vanished completely and a 
horde of taxis plied on the streets, their numbers increasing 
as the French manufacturers began to emulate the pro- 
duction and sales methods of the Americans. For four or 
five years traffic piled up on the streets until it reached 
the chronic state of chaos which we suffer to-day. 

Along the pavements in the centre of the town and in 
the vestibules of various buildings were a large number of 
stall-holders who had been licensed during the war and 
were still permitted to remain. Vendors of silk stockings, 
brassieres, handkerchiefs, ice-cream, shoe-laces, socks, and 
footwear turned certain quarters of Paris not excluding 
wholly some of the more elegknt into something resem- 
bling an Oriental bazaar or a public fair. It was not with- 
out its picturesque aspect, but it consorted ill with the 
former tone. 

But the transformation of Paris was most marked in the 
Latin Quarter, where the student of pre-war years would 
have been hard put to it to recognize the haunts of his 
youth. Most of the famous old cafes had been turned 
into banks, or, where they survived, catered for a solid 
and respectable middle-class clientele. The gay little 
ladies, once the pride of the quarter which Miirger im- 
mortalized, had disappeared as completely as if the streets 
had opened and swaflowed them up. The long-haired, 
shabby students, those pillars of the brasseries shattering 
the world to bits over a bock, had joined them in the 
shades. A motley throng of foreigners, with Japanese 
predominating, emphasized here as elsewhere the cos- 
mopolitanism of the capital. Students now had no time 
to loiter by the way; the hectic rush of modern life left 
no time for idling, and the hard necessity of earning a 
living forced the scholar to return to his work which 
was quite often manual work as soon as his course was 

Another feature of the post-war capital was the multi- 
plication of banks and office buildings. It was as though 
the country had suddenly become industrialized all at 
once, and commercial inflations of the most preposterous 


description were the order of the day. The modest little 
pre-war shop combined with its neighbours; the small 
department store extended itself; and the large ones 
formed chains all over the country. The banks assisted 
this idiotic aggrandizement here as all over the world and 
Parisian commerce gazed at itself in an immense deforming 
mirror which magnified everything that it reflected. 

The first result was a housing shortage all over the 
country, which in Paris reached catastrophic proportions 
and caused the most extraordinary scenes. The curtain 
had now gone up upon the new rich, who emerged from 
their obscurity bulging with bullion and began to organize 
the great flat-hunt. They found themselves tenaciously 
opposed by adversaries bent on making them disgorge. 
The right to possession was sold with the most barefaced 
effrontery; people paid thousands of francs premium for 
the broken-down bed and old wardrobe which would 
enable them to obtain a tenacy. At the same time the 
cost of living soared to a fabulous height, for the new rich 
had become the arbiters of Parisian economy. And so 
they were to remain for five or six years. 

Where did they come from, all these people, bursting 
with their curiously acquired gains? From obscure little 
places behind the lines where they had followed half a 
dozen more or less reputable occupations; from the big 
industrial towns which had been transformed into colossal 
armament factories; from ports where they had traded 
with the Allies; from frontier towns where they had 
engaged in dubious commerce with neutrals; or simply 
from Paris, where, for the last two years, it had been the 
easiest thing in the world to exchange goods of any sort 
for money. 

But wherever they came from, whether they were 
young or old, fat or lean, married or unmarried, their 
ways were the same, their manners identical and their 
idiocies similar. They were possessed by a mad desire to 
enjoy life which they could only translate in terms of 
spending money. They lived in a perpetual whirl of 
feasting and dissipation which was remarkable even in 
the post-war rout. It was the same phenomenon which 


had been witnessed under the Directory, but magnified a 
hundredfold, a thousandfold. 

The profiteers were not confined to Paris or the large 
industrial towns; they were to be found in the most remote 
and unexpected places. The peasantry had amassed 
considerable sums during the war and were still making 
substantial profits. Legend represented every one of them 
as a Croesus in wooden shoes and one of the post-war 
revues staged a troop of peasant women clad in the ktest 
shriek of fashion with silk-stockinged legs and pearls round 
their necks, guarding that source of incalculable riches 
a herd of cows. 

The uncertainty of everything, the soaring cost of 
living, the mania for luxury among people who were poor 
yesterday and rich to-day, ushered in the new era of the 
omnipotence of Mammon. 

The Panama and Gold Rush booms fade into complete 
insignificance beside the insane orgy of gambling which 
inspired the world between the years 1919 and 1927. In 
Paris everybody had something at stake, from the great 
capitalist down to the charwoman; everybody watched 
the rise and fall of prices daily with feverish eyes. 

Prices began to soar rapidly and new millionaires were 
born every day on the pavements. Little stockbrokers' 
clerks of eighteen and thereabouts were netting two 
hundred thousand francs a year, rolling round in their 
cars, keeping fancy women, and crowding the luxury 
restaurants seeing life! The mad chase for fortune lasted 
up till 1923 the year of the crash and all its consequent 
upheavals but even then speculation, although more 
circumspect, was scarcely less intense. 

The new economic conditions brought about by the 
fall of the franc pressed particularly hardly upon the 
professional and official classes. Those decorous adminis- 
trative positions with their fixed salaries and provision for 
superannuation, formerly the objective of every French- 
man, had entirely lost their appeal. The ambition of 
every oiie now was to be an "agent" for something. 

Everybody wanted to be the middleman, and the 
necessity of repairing the national industrial equipment* 


of restoring the devastated areas, reinstating building 
operations, and providing raw materials, gave ample 
opportunity, A shrewd and clear-headed man could find 
plenty of harassed industrial concerns ready to pay him 
a handsome commission if only he could deliver the goods. 
Who wouldn't be a middleman in such circumstances? 
What young man would not forsake the desk of dull 
routine, his honourable but badly remunerated profession, 
to join in the gold rush so easily pursued in the streets of 
Paris? Promising young aspirants to the Bar and the 
learned professions forsook universities and chambers to 
become agents, restaurant lessees, and professional dancers. 

The new generation was active, ingenious, unscrupu- 
lous, and very hard-headed where its personal interests 
were at stake. It had no intention of stagnating at an 
official desk, year in year out. It wanted liberty of action, 
freedom, enterprise. For it, to travel was infinitely better 
than to arrive. Not that it didn't mean to arrive, 
, however. 

The means were ready to the hand. The motor-car 
became suddenly the key of heaven. What could be better 
than to fly along the open road, free from the daily grind, 
far from the corrosion of worry and the mere boredom of 
life, intoxicated by speed, freedom, the rush of air and 
still more speed! Yes, the motor-car was the universal 
panacea. Men struggled to acquire one, and struggled to 
keep it when they had. The manufacturers could not 
keep pace with the demand; their thousands of workmen 
had not got hands enough. Every spring the new output, 
commissioned far in advance, was pounced upon by a 
horde of eager buyers. 

The main country roads became almost as crowded as 
the Paris streets and the flock of cars returning on Sunday 
nights became a regular weekly ritual. Those who had 
no cars contented themselves with the trains. People 
travelled at all times and at all seasons. 

The sentiment must have been universal judging from 
the hordes of visitors which trains, liners, and aeroplanes 
deposited in Paris. The capital was invaded by all the 
races in the world English, Spanish, American, Dutch, 


and Argentines and the roads were further crowded by 
their cars as they sped off to spas, watering-places and 
other fashionable resorts. In some of these places the 
indigenous inhabitants became merely "the French 
colony". In Cannes, during the season, the traffic was 
regulated by English policemen specially imported from 
across the Channel. 

Paris now set to work to amuse all these visitors, most 
of whom did not understand a word of French. The 
music hall saved the situation, for what could be more 
suitable for such an audience than an entertainment where 
words were anyhow quite superfluous? 

And so the music hall became the most advertised 
diversion of the city. Fortunes were spent on it, and still 
larger fortunes made out of it. The extravagance of its 
spectacles during this period almost beggars description. 
Here was staged the world under seas, with huge fishes 
swimming in and out of coral reefs, armies of crabs and 
lobsters looking like Chinese soldiers, and an enormous 
octopus who seized the beautiful ladies of the ballet in 
his waving velvet arms. Or perhaps it would be Venice 
in the time of Longhi and Casanova, with its canals and 
lagoons, its gondolas and moonlight, its lovers and its 
undercurrent of music. Or it might be the Roman arena, 
with beautiful naked martyrs crucified over glowing coals, 
writhing under the lash, or fleeing from ardent gladiators. 
The whole pageant of history was ransacked for pretexts. 

All this sumptuous pageantry was nevertheless only a 
background for the stars. For Mistinguett, descending 
a golden staircase under a flood of converging limelight, 
step by step with the exaggerated dignity of the music 
hall queen. Or for Maurice Chevalier, impudent, care- 
less, and nimble, the idol of the typists and the shop-girls. 
Or for Harry Piker, that elegant virtuoso of the dance, or 
for that very genuine artist Grock in the well-remembered 
pantaloons so much too big for him. Or for the Dolly 
Sisters, or for Raqud Meller, or the Gertrude Hoffman 
girls or Elsie Janis. Or just for one of those beautiful 
naked show-girls posed upon a pinnacle of graceful 


These were the idols of Paris and the wonder of the 
world. And their salaries were commensurate. 

To them must be added the first vintage of the cinema 
stars Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, 
Max Linder, Norma Talmage, and Pearl White. For the 
cinema had come out into the limelight of popularity. 
People had developed the habit during the war and were 
not disposed to let it drop. Cinemas sprang up on every 
side, no longer the unpretentious little halls of yesterday, 
but sumptuous palaces with decorations almost as exotic 
as the contemporary music hall spectacle, sometimes 
medieval, sometimes oriental, sometimes submarine, and 
more often heaven knows what. 

In the theatres, musical comedy still had it all its own 
way. The war-time popularity had become so firmly 
entrenched that it seemed as though nothing could stop 
it. The airs from such favourite shows as Phi-Phi and 
Pas sur la louche were ground out by every orchestra and 
every gramophone in every cafe and restaurant. 

The song-writers and their composers were also making 
fortunes. Their method was to engrave a tune on the 
memory of the audience, to reiterate it until people could 
not get it out of their ears, to "plug" it till it drove you 
almost to fury. The words were thrown on to a screen, 
while the band seductively discoursed the air and the 
singer coaxed the audience to join in. This "song plug- 
ging" was invariably successful Nobody protested against 
it; everybody took it in good part. Post-war audiences 
were extraordinarily tolerant; they had the leniency and 
good humour of people just released from an intolerable 

The cult of mere novelty as such, another result of the 
great upheaval, produced an army of impresarios who 
scoured the world for new artistic sensations which they 
could impose upon their public. M. Jacques Hebertot 
turned the Theatre des Champs-Elysees into an enor- 
mous experimental station, a laboratory where new and 
unexpected entertainments emerged from the crucible. 

First the Russian Ballet returned to regain the applause 
of Paris. Then followed the Swedish Ballet with Jean 


Berlin, its pure Northern music coming like a cool draught 
to fevered paktes. Anna Pavlova rose to the lonely 
heights of genius with her interpretations of the Dying 
Swan, but Bolshevism had already made its appearance in 
the world of art. The discordant clamour of Erik Satie 
and the Six affronted conventional ears, and the eccen- 
tricities of Parade shocked the first-night audience so 
much that the presentation almost became a fixed battle 
between the opposing factions. And the deep voices of 
the Ukrainian choirs sang the elegy of their ruined 

But the jazz-band went on playing. 

The negro invasion was at its height, headed by that 
extraordinary phenomenon Josephine Baker, the black 
Bacchante, the unchained primitive savage who led the 
frenzied cohorts of the post-war world. 

The Latin Quarter was not the only part of the town 
to suffer change and eclipse in the years following 1914. 
The boulevards themselves were virtually dead. The life 
of the city had gone farther west, and the Champs- 
Elysees had begun to show the inroads of trade. Mont- 
martre had lead in its wings; only a few very commercialized 
attractions remained to divert the more unsophisticated 
of the tourists. 

^ Montparnasse, on the other hand, leapt into the vacant 
limelight. It had begun to emerge from obscurity during 
the war when Apollinaire discovered a humble little bar 
whose Vouvray was delicious. There Lenin and Trotsky 
had planned the campaign which was to change the face 
of half the world, surrounded by a miscellaneous crowd of 
artists and hangers-on of all races and colours. The Cafe 
de la Rotonde had opened its doors. 

The lessee was a certain Libion, a jovial, lame, white- 
haired man in a perpetual black overcoat. He was on 
familiar terms with everybody, knew all his clientele by 
heart, and turned a blind eye on the cocaine-selling that 
went on in the corners. 

"Montparnasse," said its devotees, "is the centre of the 


world", and it must be a fact that such a motley assort- 
ment of races can seldom have been gathered together 
Hindus, Japanese, Dutchmen, and Chinese, with here 
and there an authentic Redskin entertaining an equally 
authentic Parisienne. 

Cubism was the new artistic snobbery. All the Cubists 
were there: Kisling in his dirty overall with his iron 
bracelets round his wrists, and Vlaminck roaring with 
laughter in a corner. This Bohemian of the old guard, 
who had been a professional cyclist and a performer in a 
night-club band, had sounded all the heights and depths 
of experience but remained always the same jovial com- 
panion. In another corner sat the taciturn Picasso. When 
peace was restored, all these people, save those whom the 
war had removed, found themselves back in a setting more 
exotic than ever. The Dome and the Coupole, adjacent 
subsidiaries of the Rotonde, were equally crowded by 
this perpetual cosmopolitan carnival. These folk painted. 
At least, they exhibited. Or, more exactly still, they 
made a living out of art, sometimes a fortune. Many of 
them drew substantial sums from the picture-dealers to 
whom they had sold the whole of their future output. 
For art, like everything else during the war, had become 
commercialized. The high prices realized by certain 
modern pictures had demonstrated to the artists and the 
dealers that painting was as good a field for "market 
operations" as any other. Prices could be made to rise or 
fall by adroit manipulation and numbers of agents at once 
set to work to exploit the possibilities of the new graft. 

It was quite an easy business. All it wanted was a little 
capital. You bought, with a little discrimination, the 
entire output of a young painter, stored it until the 
appointed time, and then suddenly revealed it to an 
admiring world for sale at fancy prices. The art dealer 
became the nurse, almost the mother, of his foundlings. 
But the chosen had to keep their noses to the grindstone. 
Woe betide the idle apprentice; his means of subsistence 
would soon be cut off. 

The pursuit of cash was continued everywhere just as 
feverishly. The writers were not quite so lucky as the 


painters, but then, what a flood of books there was! When 
the world had stopped dancing, it read. Always novels. 
Housewives, shop-girls, dressmakers, servants, the rein- 
forcements of the legion of romance-devourers flocked in. 
It was only to be expected that the speculative element 
showed itself here also. The Edition de luxe lent itself to 
shrewd dealers just as the canvases did, for its price also 
could be forced up and down at will. Sometimes prices 
rose to a fabulous level and collectors and speculators 
bought editions on vellum, rice paper, rag paper, num- 
bered and signed by the author, and what not, just as 

they bought porcelain, pictures, and furniture. But they 

^ f + 

gambled in everything during this epoch of folly. Jewels, 

china, furniture, and bibelots all changed hands con- 
tinually, were sold and resold, forced up and cried down, 
held back and put into circulation again. 

The war-time influx of women into all trades and pro- 
fessions was by now established as a permanent feature 
of social life. The women were everywhere, and they 
had succeeded in adapting themselves so well that they 
threatened to oust the men from many occupations. 
They had got into the Civil Service and not only crowded 
the lower ranks of the executive but were also to be found 
with their feet on the administrative ladder. To-day 
they were secretaries; to-morrow they might be depart- 
mental chiefs. And after that? Everything seemed to 
be open to them. They were conductors on the tramways 
and on the Metro, where they still wore the policeman's 
cap they had adopted in 1914. Some of them even drove 
taxis and motor-lorries without exciting any comment. 
For the ravages of the war upon the male population were 
such as to render the women indispensable. 

The shortage of men had put husbands at a premium. 
Sought after, pampered, and almost openly pursued, men 
began to impose new conditions and strictures upon their 
companions just as the latter were celebrating their escape 
from the old ones. Men and women had both grown 
during these last few years, but they had not grown 


together. Now that they were face to face again, each 
discovered the other to be harder, more resolute, and 
more antagonistic. 

Another post-war trait worth noting is the virtual dis- 
appearance of drunkenness among the lower classes and its 
accession to more exalted social circles. Hard drinks were 
all the fashion and cocktails were almost the staple food 
of youth. Young girls drank two or three before lunch 
and heaven knows how many were consumed in a fashion- 
able household during the course of the day. Obviously 
there were advantages in having one's own bar, and so 
sprang up the formidable array of cabinets and counters 
and little rooms fitted up with shelves and high stools 
and all the appurtenances familiar to the habitual 
consumers of pink gins and more exotic mixtures. 

With the increasing palate for violent drinks went an 
increasing taste for violent sports. An enormous stadium 
was opened at Colombes to accommodate the growing 
crowds that flocked every Sunday to the football matches. 
The women were just as noisy and enthusiastic as the men; 
just as unsporting also, when the home team failed to win. 
Tennis was practised day and night on grass courts and 
hard courts with intensive fury, and winter sports mono- 
polized the months of December and January. But the 
mania of the town was for boxing, and the fashionable of 
both sexes flocked to the ring to blink with brutal sadistic 
joy at the frenzied struggles beneath those blinding 

Violence, bitterness, speedl These are the key-notes of 
the life we lead to-day. Our over-strung nerves need 
more and more violent stimulus to wring a single vibration 
from them. Whatever we do, we fling ourselves into it 
with fanatic intensity; we demand to be whirled along 
the road or in the air, to be plunged in work at high 
pressure, to drink pleasure dry and to be spurred by thrill 
after thrill until the human machine collapses. From the 
time he gets out of bed the town dweller is caught up 
like a fly on the wheel, and when he returns at night, 
weary and exhausted, it is to listen to the clanging of the 
telephone and the babble of the radio. 


He is mummified in matter, for, by the irony of life, 
that progress of which he is so proud has not lifted any 
of his burdens but has strapped them more firmly on his 
back. His imperious desires, multiplied a hundredfold, 
drive him like a galley slave to find the means of their 
fulfilment, and the infinite complications of modern life 
press round him like iron bands. Everywhere in this age 
of "freedom" he is more oppressed. Legislation, regula- 
tions, taxation, and prohibitions hedge him in on every 
side. All his activities are supervised, checked, and spied 
on as never before in the history of civilization. This is 
the supreme paradox: man in trying to free himself has 
everywhere riveted his chains. He longs for liberty, space, 
and silence, yet not for a king's ransom would he tear 
himself from his clamorous hell. "Paris is becoming im- 
possible," chorus its citizens. But how many of them 
would ever dream of leaving it? 

This transformation of life must not be wholly attributed 
to the war; it was due in no small part to the unsatis- 
factory solutions of the Peace problems, to the bungling 
of politicians. No review of life in France during the last 
sixty odd years would be complete without a survey, 
however cursory, of the efforts made by international 
statesmen to construct a new and better world in which 
war would be for ever banned, and of the doings of the 
men elected to the Chamber of Deputies. 

The Peace Conference transformed Paris into an inter- 
national city, filling it with unaccustomed colour, gaiety, 
and excitement. Paris rose to the occasion and provided, 
with more or less success, for the varied wants of the 
great inflow of foreigners come to make peace. The dele- 
gations came with nicely defined ideas as to the peace that 
ought to be made and the share of the spoils that should 
fall to their countries. It was never expected that the 
drawing up of the peace terms would be an easy matter, 
but few of the plenipotentiaries imagined, when they set 
foot in Paris, that the difficulties encountered would be 
so numerous or so serious. It soon became apparent that 
there were far too many peacemakers. Most of them with 
notions of how the Central Powers should be dealt with 


were never given a chance to express themselves. But 
what they could not accomplish in the bosom of the 
Conference they attempted to achieve by intriguing 

Even the Peace Council, limited to ten members, five 
Premiers and five Foreign Ministers, could not get rid 
of the state of confusion that had been created by the 
Babel of warring tongues, by the demands which inces- 
santly poured in upon it from all sides. The Council was 
reduced to four, and finally it was the Big Three, Mr. 
Lloyd George, M. Clemenceau, and President Wilson, 
totally dissimilar in temperament and outlook, who drew 
up the Treaty, such as it was, which was ultimately 
presented to the Germans and signed by all the parties 

Clemenceau was right when, before the Peace Con- 
ference began, he spoke of "this terrible business of 
making peace". What relief, what frenzied joy, when the 
Big Three, their task ended, emerged from the Hall of 
Mirrors in the chateau at Versailles and were mobbed by 
an unbridled crowd and hailed as the saviours of the 
world! Little did these delirious people of all nationalities 
imagine on that sultry day in June 1919 what troubles 
were to follow the work of the peacemakers. Lloyd 
George, Clemenceau, and President Wilson, who had 
somehow Come to be regarded by Frenchmen as the per- 
sonification of aloofness, were speedily disillusioned, the 
"Tiger" most of all. 

The opportunity came to crown Clemenceau's work for 
France by sending him to the Elys6e. Very reluctantly 
he consented to stand for the Presidency of the Republic, 
but there was opposition to him led by his enemy Briand, 
who induced the debonair Paul Deschanel, President of 
the Chamber who had thrilled the deputies by an eloquent 
speech, to become a candidate. The dress rehearsal of the 
election at the Senate showed which way the wind was 
blowing, and Clemenceau withdrew his candidature rather 
than suffer defeat. That was the end of his turbulent 
public life, his "reward" for his war services, and he 
retired, accepting nothing, save a symbolical work of art 


representing a tiger crushing an eagle presented to him 
by the Paris Municipal Council. When he died his 
family even refused a State funeral, and his body was 
practically smuggled out of Paris in the dead of night for 
burial at his birthplace in his beloved Vendee. 

Had he lived the "Tiger" would have had many oppor- 
tunities of gloating over his political adversaries, become 
ministers, because of the blunders they committed. 
Millerand, his successor, obstinate, a little dour, but strong, 
a courageous Premier and Foreign Minister, was forced 
to the Elysee against his will, and hounded out of it by 
the Radicals and Socialists because he refused to content 
himself with being a figurehead. The silver-tongued 
Briand was given more than one chance, but many 
Frenchmen felt that Lloyd George had got the better of 
him in the discussions at Cannes on the Peace settlement, 
that the "Welsh wizard" had hypnotized him on the 
golf-course, and he was summoned to Paris and had to 

Poincare once more. The ex-President had donned his 
lawyer's gown and taken up his pen, writing articles in 
Le Temfs and the Revue des deux Monies on the necessity 
of making Germany pay. Again he had the urge to 
become the central figure in the Parliamentary arena, and 
his ambition was gratified. As Premier he spent his 
Sundays in delivering speeches against Germany's bad 
faith. But he did more than talk. He acted. When 
Germany openly defaulted in her reparation payments 
he surprised the world and angered Britain by sending 
French troops, joined by Belgian soldiers, to occupy the 
Ruhr industrial basin. "A foolhardy enterprise," said the 
foreign critics of French policy. "Reparations will never 
be obtained in that way." But Poincare found means of 
working the mines, factories, and railways and obtaining 
what he called his "productive pledges" in spite of 
Germany's disastrous policy of passive resistance. 

It was Herriot, brought to power by a change-over 
which frequently occurs in France, who put an end to 
the occupation of the Ruhr and incidentally killed the 
Bloc National. The Radicals and Socialists had perfected 


their electoral organizations to such an extent as to enable 
them to sweep awa7 their opponents in many constitu- 
encies. But a Nemesis attended the policy of the Radical 
Government of pulling down and of rebuilding after its 
own fashion. An orgy of expenditure was begun. Cracks 
appeared in the financial edifice. The note circulation 
was increased. The country had to be calmed down. It 
was told that there would be no inflation, and there were 
hints of proceedings against those who uttered that awful 
word, thus provoking what the newspapers called a "crisis 
of confidence". But inflation came all the same and at a 
vertiginous rhythm in July 1926. The country was racing 
towards bankruptcy. Astonishing scenes were witnessed 
during the inflation period. People rushed to spend what 
money they had, buying clothes, jewels, furniture, houses, 
motor-cars, and many other things of which they had no 
immediate need, and eating and drinking of the best. The 
thing was to get something for their money at the moment 
lest it would have no value on the morrow. 

When at last the franc fell to two hundred and forty to 
the pound and the ugly fact leaked out that the State coffers 
were virtually empty, there being only a bare million 
francs to carry on the services of the country, Paris was 
seized with panic. There were ebullitions of despair and 
indignation; demonstrations, with notes of tragedy in 
them, in front of the Chamber of Deputies. The angry 
populace clamoured for the resignation of the Radical- 
Socialist Government, which was blamed for having 
brought the country to bankruptcy and ruin. Edouard 
Herriot, the Premier, a very estimable man in many 
respects, well-meaning, scrupulously sincere, but singu- 
lary unfortunate as head of the Government, saw the 
writing on the wall, and offered his resignation to M, 
Gaston Doumergue, the President of the Republic. The 
President, however, took the view that the head of the 
Government should shoulder his responsibilities. Herriot 
could only follow this advice, and he fell in a rather 
inglorious fashion. 

It was generally agreed by the public that there was 
only one man who could get the country out of its 


terrible mess Raymond Poincare and he accepted the 
heavy task offered to him on one condition, that all the 
groups in the Chamber should face up to their respon- 
sibilities and be represented in the new Government of 
National Union. Like drowning meu the politicians, on 
top, but now cowed, were ready to grasp at any straw, 
and all, with the exception of the Socialists, eagerly 
accepted Poincare's invitation. Party antagonisms were 
stilled, and under the Premier's strong lead the new 
Government set to work to restore the country's finances. 

For two years France knew what it was to live under a 
real Parliamentary dictator who never minced words and 
kept his gaze steadily fixed on the goal before him. 
Drastic things had to be done, and Poincare did them. 
Taxation was increased enormously, expenditure in State 
departments was cut down ruthlessly, and these exact- 
ments, together with the institution of reforms with 
economy as their object and made possible by decree-laws, 
were accepted by the country without audible murmurs 
of dissent. 

Looking back on that terrible crisis in the affairs of 
France all Frenchmen of dispassionate judgment had at 
that time a profound admiration for the genius, the 
patriotism, and the unselfishness of the great Lorrain, 
who put in two of the hardest years of his well-filled life 
in the service of France. Never was the crack of a dic- 
tator's whip more readily obeyed. There were eloquent 
reasons for every move he made. He seemed to work by 
time-table, got the right men to do the right things in 
his way, and in the end the country had the satisfaction 
of seeing his task brought to a successful conclusion. 

Very hard years they were for Frenchmen living under 
crushing taxation and ever reminded of the soaring cost 
of living. But in spite of the heavy sacrifices they were 
called upon to bear they were not unhappy under 
Poiacare's dictatorship. At any rate they lived in an 
atmosphere of growing national confidence free from poli- 
tical upheavals which had upset the country's eqiulibritim 
in the past and which were destined to destroy it in the 
years to come. When the Government of National Unio u 


came to an end the old system of party rule, which means 
that the interests of parties come before the interests of 
the State, was revived and in time Poincare's heritage 
created by wise statesmanship was dissipated, and the 
country found itself faced with a Budget deficit of 

The Left parties, more than ever determined to exer- 
cise domination, athirst for power, soon forgot the bitter 
experience of 1926, and appealed to the country for its 
confidence. The Right and Centre parties made strenuous 
efforts to resist the Radical and Socialist onslaughts, which 
became fiercer at each succeeding appeal to the country. 
The pendulum was always swinging during these years. 
The electors were in a quandary, not knowing what 
parties would be able to do the best for France. Andre 
Tardieu, a vigorous politician with ideas, who was a member 
of Clemenceau's War Cabinet and of Poincare's Govern- 
ment of National Union, got his chance on two occasions 
and drew up programmes of national reconstruction. But 
the Radical Socialists detested him and conspired against 
him with such vehemence that he was brought down each 
time before he had the opportunity of fulfilling the 
promises in his declarations of policy. 

The series of notoriously short-lived Ministries, the 
inability of the politicians to make any headway in grap- 
pling with the country's urgent problems, produced two 
effects never dreamt of when the Peace Treaty was signed: 

(1) A large and ever-increasing body of Frenchmen, dis- 

gusted with the politicians whom they considered 
were out for party spoils instead of furthering the 
interests of France, were fast losing their faith in 
the efficacy of the Parliamentary institutions, but 
clung to the hope that the tide would turn and 
that a statesman of the calibre of Poincare would 
arise and by his strength and wisdom give the 
country what it needed settled government and 
a chance to make progress. 

(2) An equally large, probably larger, number of French- 

men, convinced that the regime had failed to justify 


itself and that no good purpose was to be served 
by the existing Parliamentary institutions, formed 
themselves into associations with varying aims, 
some labelled Fascists, bent on renovation, others, 
Communists and Socialists, frankly revolutionary. 

We now see the beginning of internal dissension which 
became more deep-seated with the passing of the years 
and has been the serious preoccupation of every Govern- 
ment since 1930. The Communists, who had captured 
a large section of the Socialist Party and its machinery at 
the famous Congress at Tours, were assisted in their propa- 
ganda by subsidies from the Soviet. Their growing 
strength portended danger and had formidable reactions. 
It served to infuse new life into the Royalist movement, 
giving its members, the "Camelots du Roi", mostly young 
men, pretexts for organizing counter-demonstrations up 
and down the country which not infrequently ended in 
riots and bloodshed. Quite a number of other organiza- 
tions, all bent on changing the face of France, sprang into 
being. Of these the strongest are the Federation of Ex- 
Combatants and Colonel de la Rocque's Croix de Feu, 
which latter, repudiating the allegation of being Fascist, 
speedily obtained a membership of half a million men 
determined to change the ways of the politicians. 

The Communists and Socialists, aware of the powerful 
forces that would be arrayed against them if it came to 
a clash, found it expedient to sink their differences and 
join hands. So they formed themselves into a Front 
Commune, to which a section of the Radical Socialist Party 
under Edouard Daladier was not unsympathetic. 

Dakdier was the sorriest of all the Left post-war 
Premiers. He it was who got rid of Jeanne Chiappe, the 
little Corsican, the most energetic, not to say smartest, 
Prefect of Police that Paris had known. 

It was under Dakdier's premiership that the Stavisky 
scandal reached its climax, filling the people with despair 
and disgust which culminated in the riots in the Place de 
k Concorde in the early days of February 1934 and the 
killing of ex-combatants outraged in their sentiments of 


honour and patriotism. A few years previously the 
financial scandal in which that amazing woman, Madame 
Marthe Hanau and her Gazette du Franc were involved, 
had shocked the country, but it paled into insignificance 
compared with the Stavisky affair, in which politicians, 
judges, and newspaper directors were compromised, and 
thousands of people, lured into investing and losing their 
money in what was termed the "Bayonne Pawnshop" 
were ruined. The painful recital of Stavisky's colossal 
swindles and how they had been made possible by the 
alleged connivance of persons in high places had infuriated 
the populace, and the fury was increased by the treatment 
meted out to the efficient Prefect of Police. That 
Chiappe's conduct on that occasion was approved by 
Paris is shown by the fact that he was subsequently elected 
to the Presidency of the Municipal Council. 

Daladier put up a stout defence, but he did not escape 
the censure of the people and all that this implied. 
Unlucky Radical Socialist Party! It was accused of 
plunging the country into a crisis infinitely more serious 
that that of 1926 when Edouard Herriot was at the head 
of the Government. A man had to be found to clear 
away the mess, to form another Government of National 
Union, and Gaston Doumergue, who had been a very 
popular President of the Republic, was called from his 
retirement to undertake the task. He brought to his 
thankless job the spotless reputation of a patriot. Such 
was the contrition of the politicians that he could have 
done anything with them. How they would have obeyed 
the crack of another dictator's whip! But Doumergue 
was too mild and amiable a man, too much of a stickler 
for Parliamentary forms, to do the seemingly harsh things 
that the situation of the country demanded. His dis- 
arming smile was not enough; he lacked the necessary 
courage, and he lost his opportunity. The men of the 
Left, taking advantage of his amiability, got over their 
fright, plucked up courage, resumed their old tactics, and 
Doumergue was beaten and returned to his retreat. 
Etienne Flandin, his successor, as vigorous as he is big, 
did his best but he was hampered by the motor-car 


accident in which he sustained a smashed arm. Then the 
task of placating the Left was too much for him and he 
had to give place to Pierre Laval, whose Government was 
given semi-dictator's powers for a few months. Poincare, 
or a statesman like him, would have demanded more 
freedom of action, and he would have got it. 

Amid all these changes and vacillations in the Parlia- 
mentary domain, amid all that has happened between 
1870 and this year of grace 1935, one stern fact stands 
out. France has lost her happiness and her smile of other 
days. Paris is still a city of fight, but where is the gaiety, 
the insouciance, the joy of living which distinguished the 
city in the past and lured to it foreigners in their tens of 
thousands? Gone. Paris soon became a triste city after 
the depreciation of English and American currencies and 
the slump in the tourist traffic, and threatens to remain 
so until something like equalization in international money 
values has been restored, until internal strife is ended and 
the people can live, labour, and prosper under a stable 
parliamentary regime. 


THE physical transformation of Paris since 1871 is nothing 
compared with the change in manners and social life 
during this period. French society is in process of evolu- 
tion or should we say dissolution at a rate which is 
daily accelerating. Survivors of the last days of the Second 
Empire can still look upon corners of the town which they 
have known from childhood and find them superficially 
unchanged, but they can never strike a single responsive 
chord in the manners, habits, and ideas of to-day. The 
places have changed but little: the men are another race. 

The thing which one encounters at every turn, the 
thing which seems to dominate and determine every 
activity of the day, is the desire to live rapidly. Travel 
is swift and breathless. Whether bent on business or 
pleasure people rush about grimly; no one idles any more 
in the streets of Paris. Not that it is peculiar to Paris or 
to France; it is the accepted pace of all the world. Per- 
haps the Parisian has succumbed to it more easily than 
others because he is by nature vivacious and alert, swift 
of speech, and rapid of gesture. 

The result of all this is an instability which manifests 
itself in every department of life and ideas. Ministers rise 
and fall in bewildering succession; a capricious electorate 
throws up and pulls down a score of politicians every 
term. Democracy is a great devourer of men, and it 
always gets its ration. 

This constant flux is not only affecting individuals; it 
is attacking institutions. Under the guise of social reform 
and amenity fresh legislation is piled up every session, the 
last law cancelling the preceding ana enduring only a 
short space before it is itself superseded. Regulations and 
restrictions multiply with apparently no guiding principle 
but the method of trial and error- When we consider the 
formidable mass of laws regarding traffic, housing, and 
social insurance, what single logical principle can be 
isolated from them? All are tentative, experimental, and 



built on sand, all dubiously workable to-day and hopelessly 
out of date to-morrow. 

In the sphere of morals we can only say that the tradi- 
tional virtues of prudence and integrity have declined 
progressively since the Panama revelations, but that since 
the war the decline has accelerated beyond belief. Scandal 
after scandal is disclosed before a public whose leniency is 
even affecting the law-courts, where the punishment of 
offenders becomes ever lighter and lighter. For what is 
good, and what is evil? 'Hie line of demarcation has worn 
thin in the public consciousness, and never has the frontier 
been so easy to cross. 

But it is in the realm of economics that confusion 
reigns supreme. Prices rise and fall without apparent 
reason, with no discoverable arbiter but the fluctuations 
of human avarice and desire. What does the public want 
to-day? And what will it want to-morrow? How can 
any one know; it doesn't even know itself. It is a straw 
blown as the wind lists. And the wind is generated by its 
own churning ambitions and desires. 

The French, and more particularly the Parisians, have 
become used to shrugging off the complications of modern 
life. They have supported an orgy of public expenditure 
which has dislocated the national budget; an orgy of sport 
which has encroached upon our ideas and our intelligence; 
an orgy of tumult and speed which makes it impossible to 
cross the street in safety. They have endured successive 
revelations of parliamentary dishonesty, they have suffered 
four years of war. They have even suffered the peace. 
Only one thing has any power to disturb our consciousness 
or arouse our interest, and that is Money. For It our 
lives have been turned upside down and our leisure and 
serenity destroyed; for It our women go down to the 
hustings, our youth abandons its studies, its apprentice- 
ships, and the agreeable idling of the formative years. 
For It we abandon our honourable professions for dubious 
dealing; to It we burn incense without end. 

No wonder that the Paris we knew has vanished. All 
that contributed to its particular charm has gone: the 
modest and simple pleasures, the careless, loitering life of 


the Boulevards, the inexpensive living, and the existence 
of a society where wit and intelligence were qualities that 
counted. All these have gone now; we are lucky if we 
can walk along the streets without being pushed off the 
pavement and run over. The money that we seek so 
furiously is just as frantically disbursed. We rush out on 
our Sundays and week-ends to enjoy ourselves at top 
pressure. Silence or calm is anathema to us. 

Europe has decided to conduct her life to the tempo of 
the American symphony, and we of France have only 
fallen into step with all the rest. But because we have 
always been a country of small property owners and 
citizens with modest tastes and ideals the change inevitably 
seems more radical here than in London, Berlin, or Milan. 
But we have somehow adapted ourselves to it. We have 
survived these ever-recurring difficulties and crises, and 
we have even managed to make fun of them. So perhaps, 
after all, we can still sing the song they sang after the 
troubles of 1870: 

Via le travail qui r'prend 
Esperance, confiance. 
Via le travail qui r'prend 
Paris sera toujours grand.